Ecology of Chelonia mydas
Main Ref. Schneider, W., 1990
Remarks A typical solitary nektonic animal which usually feeds at shallow water areas where seagrasses or algae is abundant (Ref. 417). Feeds on algae and seagrasses (Ref. 97534). Home ranges for individuals feeding on algae is larger than individuals feeding on seagrass (Ref. 66638). Adults are known to be herbivorous while hatchlings to juvenile sizes are assumed to be carnivorous which has faster growth rates. When they get big enough, mostly capable of avoiding predators, they shift to a herbivorous diet (Ref. 417). Adults spend their adult life in foraging grounds which is often in great distance from nesting grounds (Ref. 66637). This results in a great energy cost from transport and fasting during the travel, thus females are observed to rest on the sea floor between nestings (Ref. 85359). Since mating occurs at sea, courting and copulation behavior are observed near nesting beaches and males are described to display and elaborate courtship behavior (Ref. 66637). In Hawaii beach-basking behavior was observed to facilitate temperature regulation (Ref. 81046). They have a swimming speed of 32km/hr (Ref. 83508). During nesting, females emerge from the water and creates a set of tracks one ascending to a successful nest or aborted digging while another extends as it descends to the sea (Ref. 83891). Post-nesting behavior shows a dominance of short dives mainly during open-ocean migration. This aids them in lessening their energy cost during transport, plus there is little food available in the open-ocean thus close to surface dives is observed. They also combine open-ocean and coastal routes for provision of foraging opportunities (Ref. 83560). Couplings of water temperature and their behavior is observed among this species (Ref. 85360).

Aquatic zones / Water bodies

Marine - Neritic Marine - Oceanic Brackishwater Freshwater
Marine zones / Brackish and freshwater bodies
  • supra-littoral zone
  • littoral zone
  • sublittoral zone
  • epipelagic
  • mesopelagic
  • epipelagic
  • abyssopelagic
  • hadopelagic
  • estuaries/lagoons/brackish seas
  • mangroves
  • marshes/swamps
  • rivers/streams
  • lakes/ponds
  • caves
  • exclusively in caves
Highighted items on the list are where Chelonia mydas may be found.


Substrate Benthic: demersal; Soft Bottom: sand; ooze (, organic );
Substrate Ref.
Special habitats Beds: algae/seaweed; sea grass;
Special habitats Ref.


Ref. Schneider, W., 1990
Associated with
Association remarks


Feeding type mainly plants/detritus (troph. 2-2.19)
Feeding type Ref. Márquez, M.R., 1990
Feeding habit grazing on aquatic plants
Feeding habit Ref. Márquez, M.R., 1990

Trophic Level(s)

Estimation method original sample unfished population Remark
Troph s.e. Troph s.e.
From diet composition 2.00 0.00 Troph of juv./adults.
From individual food items 2.34 0.04 Trophic level estimated from a number of food items using a randomized resampling routine.
Ref. López-Mendilaharsu, M., S.C. Gardner, J.A. Seminoff and R. Riosmena-Rodriguez, 2005
(e.g. 9948)
(e.g. cnidaria)
Entered by Dar, Christine on 06.22.06
Modified by Polido, Rubyann Robelle on 03.07.16
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