Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)

Family Cheloniidae

Green Seaturtle
Chelonia mydas

Green Seaturtle, i-Stock Image


36-48 inches. Record - 60 inches.


  • An oval to heart-shaped carapace (top shell) that is olive to brown, gray or black.
  • The plastron (bottom shell) is cream to yellowish.
  • Body scales are often edged in yellow.
  • No keel down its smooth carapace, and the rear margin is only slightly serrated.
  • Four costal scutes on each side of the carapace.
  • The first costal scute does not touch the nuchal scute.
  • Only one pair of scales between eyes (vs. two pairs in Atlantic Hawskbill Turtle).
  • Habitats

    Open ocean, near shore and in coastal bays/estuaries. Most observations in our area are of juveniles near shore, usually in shallow water with an abundance of submerged vegetation. No nesting occurs at our latitude (all is tropical).

    How to Find

    An uncommon visitor. Look for them foraging underwater in shallow water areas with abundant seagrasses in the Coastal Bays during the summer months. State and federally listed as Threatened. If you observe or find any individuals please contact DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

    Distribution in Maryland

    Coastal Bays of Worcester County.


    FaceBook Icon

    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.