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Green Sea Turtle

(Chelonia mydas)

IUCN REDLIST STATUS: ENDANGERED

These large turtles can reach up to 500 - 600 pounds and approximately 4 - 6 feet in length. A brownish or greenish color, their carapace is blotched with green, brown and yellow flecks. Their name comes from the greenish color of their fat called calipee. These turtles have been hunted for many years for their tasty flesh and the calipee which is often used in turtle soup. Although protected by law in the US, green turtle eggs are regularly harvested for food in many nations throughout the tropics. Their eggs are considered a delicacy and sometimes used as an aphrodisiac. These practices have led to a serious decline in their population numbers. Green turtles are a threatened species in the US with the exception of Florida where they are endangered. In several Caribbean nations they are farmed regularly for food.

On Long Island, juvenile green turtles can be found entrapped in fishing gear during the summer and a small number suffer cold stunning each year. They utilize Long Island's warm shallow bays and Long Island Sound to feed on crabs, crustaceans and submerged aquatic vegetation such as eel grass.

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