Earlier we looked at land based turtles and tortoise. The two most commonly found sea turtles that I have watched in the waters around Florida are the Green and the Hawksbill. They are very similar in their habitat, behavior, size, shape and coloration. For me, the distinguishing characteristic most easily spotted is the shape of their jaws. The Hawksbill turtle has the shape reminiscent of a bird with a prominent point to the upper jaw while the Green is quite rounded. There are other characteristics but they are not so obvious. I’ve seen both types swimming about in the off shore reefs of Florida and other parts of the Caribbean. These animals seem mysterious. Unless you are truly intent on watching them as they come ashore for egg laying you would not have any contact with them. The only other way to learn about them is to go underwater to look at them in their environment. They are very benign, are relatively solitary and photographing them can be very rewarding.
The turtles are critically important for the health of the reef. The Greens eat the algae and sea grass, and Hawksbills eat sponges which would otherwise over grow the reefs. The Hawksbilled is endangered and the Green is threatened. There are many authorities who have written scholarly articles in juried publications.
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