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The Story of Axle
Sea turtles are ancient reptiles that have been in our oceans for over 150 millions years – before the time of the dinosaurs. Green Sea Turtles can be found in our oceans near continental coasts and islands between 30o South and 30o North. They are the largest grazing marine herbivores, along with dugongs and manatees. The Pacific populations primarily forage on seaweeds and algae.
Females will return to their sandy natal beaches, the beach they hatched from, to dig a nest and lay 75-150 eggs per nest. After laying the eggs, the females return to the ocean. The eggs take 48-70 days to hatch. The hatchlings will emerge in the cover of darkness to make their first journey to the ocean. This journey is quite dangerous in terms of natural predators and artificial elements, such as lights, that may confuse and direct the hatchlings away from the ocean, as their normal guiding light is the moon over the ocean’s horizon. In addition, in the past sailors would hunt Green Sea Turtles as they were easy to capture from their nesting beaches and could be kept alive for long periods of time on their boats.
But the story of the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is a story of hope. Due to concerned citizens and the protection offered by the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the establishment of a National Marine Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, popular nesting grounds, the population of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles has grown by an estimated 5.7%.
Axle was named by Pacific Whale Foundation supporter, Lydia Delman from New York, in honor of her boyfriend, Alexander Stewart. When they were first dating Alex signed a letter Axle. This has become a very memorable moment for the couple and we hope they enjoy learning about their adoptive turtle.
Pacific Whale Foundation researchers first sighted axle on May 10, 2011 in a location called Turtle Town near a ledge of coral in 6 meters of water. The researchers use a unique system of noting the shape, arrangement, and number of cheek scutes, or scales, to identify the turtles. Axle was seen again in the same area on March 28, 2011.
Green Sea Turtles life span is still debated and it can take up to 20 years to reach sexual maturity and adults can have carapaces up to 40 inches long and weigh between 200-500 pounds. At this time you can definitely recognize a female from a male visually as the female’s tail will extend extensively beyond their hind flippers. Green Sea Turtle carapaces can range in color from olive brown to black and the plastron (underside of the carapace) is yellowish.
We are grateful for Lydia Delman’s generosity in naming a turtle in honor of her boyfriend, Alexander Stewart. We hope you enjoyed learning about your adoptive turtle. The funds raised from animal adoptions go to support the ongoing research at Pacific Whale Foundation.