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13 Facts About Galapagos Sea Turtles (Chelonia Agassizii): Plus Photos and Videos

Would you like to swim with Galapagos sea turtles? It’s an unforgettable experience – they are amazing animals!

This post will help you get to know them better. We’ve compiled photos, videos, and tons of facts – all about Galapagos sea turtles.

Galapagos Sea Turtle above water

By CharlesjsharpOwn work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography.

Learn more about traveling to the Galapagos Islands.


Swimming With Galapagos Sea Turtles

Swimming with Galapagos sea turtles is both exciting and relaxing. Nothing seems to faze them, they just go about their business, unconcerned about your presence.

Their calm nature makes it easy to get underwater photos and video footage of them. If you’re heading to the Galapagos don’t forget your underwater camera. Download your free Galapagos packing list.

In the following video, you’ll see the beautiful markings of the Galapagos green sea turtle.

Galapagos Sea Turtle (Chelonia Agassizii) Video

Watch on YouTube


13 Facts About Galapagos Sea Turtles (Chelonia Agassizii)

There are a number of sea turtles that can be found in the Galapagos. These include the hawksbill, leatherback, olive ridley, and the Galapagos green. This article is about the Galapagos green turtle, referred to as the Galapagos sea turtle.

Galapagos Sea Turtle Ecuador StampThe Galapagos sea turtle is a type of Pacific green turtle, but is unique in a few ways. The following facts will help us learn about some of the characteristics that make them unique.

We’ve tried to answer all the common questions about Galapagos sea turtles, but if you have one that’s not covered here please let us know by commenting on this post.


1) How are Galapagos green sea turtles different than other green sea turtles?

Their shell has a more domed shape than other Pacific green turtles. They are also smaller and the color of their upper shell (the carapace) is darker (usually dark olive brown or black).

Another difference is that female Galapagos green sea turtles usually keep one hind leg in the nest while laying eggs to prevent the nest from caving in.

Galapagos sea turtles are named after the Galapagos because that is the only place they lay their eggs.

The colony that nests in the Galapagos is the largest in the East Pacific.


2) Where do Galapagos sea turtles lay their eggs?

Like other green sea turtles, they lay their eggs on land. The females come ashore (usually at night) to lay their eggs on the beach. They dig down in the sand with their flippers to make a nest which they lay their eggs in.

In the following video, you’ll see a Galapagos sea turtle on the beach. She uses her front flippers to fling sand over her eggs, and then makes her way back to the water.

Galapagos Sea Turtle Nesting on the Beach

Watch on YouTube


3) How many babies do Galapagos sea turtles have?

A female will lay between 50 to 200 eggs once a year.

The temperature of the sand helps determine the sex of the babies. If the sand is warm (over 85°F/30°C) the majority of the babies will be girls and if it’s cool (below 85°F/30°C) they’ll be boys.


4) When do Galapagos sea turtles lay their eggs?

Female sea turtles will usually lay eggs every two to three years, from December through June. The peak months seem to be January through March.

Galápagos Sea Turtle on the beach

Photo – Wikimedia Commons


5) When is the best time to see Galapagos sea turtles?

There are great opportunities to see sea turtles all year round in the Galapagos.


6) Do Galapagos sea turtles have teeth?

Like all sea turtles, Galapagos sea turtles do not have teeth. They have very strong jaws, and a slightly hooked beak.

Galapagos Sea Turtles


7) Why do Galapagos sea turtles cry?

Galapagos sea turtles may look like they’re crying, but they are just ridding their bodies of excess salt.

They have a salt gland behind each eye which helps them maintain a proper salt balance. When they have too much salt in their system, they shed what look like big salt water tears.


8) Do Galapagos sea turtles come on land?

The females com up on land to make their nests and lay their eggs. Galapagos sea turtles also come on land to lay in the sun, although rarely.


9) What do Galapagos sea turtles eat?

The adults are herbivores – they love mangrove leaves, seaweed, algae and sea grass. The juveniles also eat sea sponge, shrimp, jellyfish, and crustaceans.

In the following video, you’ll see a Galapagos sea turtle eating a jellyfish.

Video of a Galapagos Sea Turtle Eating a Jellyfish

Watch on YouTube 


10) How can you tell Galapagos sea turtles apart?

To tell male and females apart, look at their size and the length of their tail. The females are larger and the males have a longer tail.


11) How long can Galapagos sea turtles stay underwater?

When they are resting they can stay underwater for over 2 hours without coming up for air. And when they are feeding they can stay under water for around 10 minutes.


12) Can Galapagos sea turtles breathe underwater?

No, they can’t breathe underwater. They have to come to the surface and put their head above water to breathe air. But they can take a deep breath very fast and stay under for hours at a time.

The more active they are, the sooner they have to surface to breath.


13) How fast can Galapagos sea turtles swim?

They have been recorded at swimming up to 35 miles per hour (56 km/h).

Galapagos Green Sea Turtle underwater

Do you have any more questions about Galapagos sea turtles? Please ask them in the comment section on this post and we’ll do our best to answer them.


Have You Swam With Galapagos Sea Turtles?

Have you ever swam with these calm, graceful turtles? What did you like most about the experience? Please share your story by commenting on this post.

Learn more about nature and wildlife expeditions, family learning journeys and academic & student travel in Ecuador.

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