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Galapagos Sea Turtle

Chelonia mydas


This sea turtle has an average weight of about 400 pounds, which is smaller than some sea turtles. They can grow up to an average of 4 feet in length. The Galapagos turtle used to be classified as a subspecies of the green sea turtle, but due to some different physical characteristics, it is now referred to as the black sea turtle mainly due to the darker color of the shell…note the first photo above. There still seems to be a connection with the green line, although not well defined in sources I have read as to how far apart they exist.


This turtle was first spotted off the Galapagos island of Santa Cruz, resting on the bottom. It was close to 80 feet deep, in a boulder-strewn, coral-encrusted sea bottom. There was a strong current, and that turtle was having much less trouble negotiating the waters than I at the time. This species breeds and lays its eggs only in Galapagos…but migrates to other areas, and their migratory habits are still being studied.


If one wants to “zen out” in the ocean, dive with the turtles. They generally glide along at a steady relaxed speed…and if one approaches slowly without excessive motion, they are not concerned about your presence. If they feel threatened, they can easily out-swim a diver. Unfortunately, this species is listed as endangered on the UICN Red List of threatened species. The females come ashore to lay eggs, and the eggs are preyed upon by birds and other land animals. Habitat loss/destruction is also a factor. Chances of any single hatchling surviving has the odds against them. This is the only sea turtle that nests in the Galapagos.

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Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 3 years ago

Thanks, Namitha.

namitha 3 years ago

Love it..Congratulations!

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 3 years ago

Thanks Mackenzie, Isabella and Gilma!

Beautiful! Fantastic healthy specimen. Congratulations, Jim Nelson.

Isabella Wright
Isabella Wright 3 years ago

that is pertty

Mackenzie Adkins
Mackenzie Adkins 3 years ago


Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 3 years ago

Thanks, Antonio and Venus

Great spotting Jim,beautiful,congrats on the well deserved SOTW and thanks for sharing

CalebSteindel 3 years ago

Congratulations, Jim!

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 3 years ago

Thanks, Pradeep.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 3 years ago

Thanks Ashley and Noah Rangers, your recognition is very much appreciated!

Pradeep Kumar
Pradeep Kumar 3 years ago


AshleyT 3 years ago

Congrats Jim, this beautiful portrait has been chosen as Spotting of the Week!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/projectnoah/pho...

Twitter: https://twitter.com/projectnoah/status/7...

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 3 years ago

Thanks, Leuba.

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 3 years ago

Great spotting including information! Thanks for sharing. I love the colours in the first shot.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 3 years ago

Thanks Ashley, Triggs and Noah Rangers!

AshleyT 3 years ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

triggsturner 3 years ago

Lovely images Jim. Thank you for sharing these endangered turtles with us.

Jim Nelson
Spotted by
Jim Nelson

Parroquia Bella Vista, Provincia de Galápagos, Ecuador

Lat: -0.58, Long: -90.11

Spotted on May 29, 2011
Submitted on May 16, 2016

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