Thursday, 2 December 2010

And ... what are Green Turtles good for?

Photo by Kim Mohlenhoff
I know, you don't start a sentence with "and" (and not even with "I know") but this is the way I was asked by this kid, few years back, at the end of a snorkelling session during which we were lucky enough to spot a Green Turtle feeding on sea grass. The question left me mildly baffled and I had to go back to my obscure memory recesses to remember what I had learnt during my studies.

To start with, I gave him an answer that seemed to me so lame that if he had turned around and slapped me I couldn't really have complained: "Green Sea Turtles are good for the marine ecosystem". I closed my eyes, waiting... It turned out that the word "ecosystem" stunned him and I could regain control of the situation.

We sat on the edge of the boat and I asked him if he had ever done any puzzles. Luckily he had done a few and so we agreed that a puzzle without a piece is useless. That was the "ecosystem" concept explained. Phewwww! The Green Turtle, I told him, is like one of the pieces of the puzzle, it completes the ecosystem and it does it in a spectacular way, as everything in nature: the Green Turtle is the only herbivorous amongst the sea turtles! We find it on sea grass feeding (we can even say "grazing"). This has a primary feeding function. However, as a second and more important side, it allows the "clearance" of the se grass for the benefit of all other species. The Green Turtle, in fact, removes all the rotting algae so that the organisms living and reproducing there, can have a healthy environment. This, in turn, maintains a constant supply of food for fish feeding on these organisms, thus keeping the circle of life going. If the Green Turtle did not exist, a big chunk of the marine life would go extinct.

I think that the little kid was satisfied with my explanation since he ran off shouting "Mummy! Mummy! Let me explain to you what sea turtles are good for! Obviously I kept hidden from him all the "uses" of dubious nature that Green Turtles have for humans ... A time and a place for everything.

If you want to know more about sea turtles please enroll in the Sea Turtles Awareness Specialty.


  1. Hi
    Really green sea turtles are one of the best creature in the sea.