Field Guide to Maryland's Turtles (Order Testudines)

Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas​​)

Common Name:

​Green Sea Turtle

Green Seaturtle, i-Stock Image

Size: 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).


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.

Distribution in Maryland:

Coastal Bays of Worcester County. This turtle is listed as Federally and State Threatened. If found, please report sightings to the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service. If found stranded or dead, please report sightings.