Gren Totel Lynda Chambers

Gren Totel (Green Sea Turtle)

  • This species is classified as Vulnerable in the Pacific region.
  • The Gren Totel is the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles.
  • They can live for over 70 years.
  • They can hold their breath underwater for up to 5 hours.
  • The sex of hatchlings is determined by the sand temperatures in their nests.

Chelonia mydas

Other names: Green Sea Turtle, Green Turtle, Tortue verte, Grinfala totel, Uga Vanua

Gren Totel are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world, including in Vanuatu. Their smooth shells are dark brown, grey or olive with lighter yellow to white undersides. Hatchlings are very dark in colour with white edges on their bodies and flippers. Once mature, they forage in shallow coastal waters, mainly eating seagrass and algae. Every 2-5 years they return to the beach where they hatched to nest.

Distinctive features

Gren Totel are the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles, though their head is comparatively small. Their shells are smooth. Distinctive features are their serrated beak on the lower jaws and two large scales located between the eyes.


These turtles are often over 1 m long and weigh up to 230 kg.



  • Feeding
  • Courtship or mating
  • Hatched eggs
  • Presence of juveniles
  • Nesting
  • Nest location. Is it on the beach, in the dunes or under trees?

When to Look

  • Year round
  • Nesting season normally extends from August to early March, peaking in late October to December
  • Approximately two months after the eggs are laid, the hatchlings leave the nest for the ocean

 Where to Look

  • Coastal regions of Vanuatu. 

Similar Species

The tracks of Hawksbill Turtles and Green Turtles are distinguishable from one another. Hawksbill Turtles have front flipper marks equal or slightly wider than their back flipper marks, back flipper marks are widely spaced and curled, and the back flippers, belly and tail produce a zigzag pattern due to the turtle's alternating gait. Green turtle tracks have front flipper marks overlapping those made by the back flippers, they are paired, they have symmetrical front flipper marks, and a short distance between flipper marks.