The Great Barrier Reef Library

A comprehensive guide to The Great Barrier Reef


Chelonia mydas

By on April 17, 2018


The family Cheloniidae contains six of the seven species of sea turtles. The Leatherback Turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, have their own separate one, largely due to their soft shell. These two families separated from each other around 100-150 million years ago!

All of these turtles are generally found in warmer oceans, however their juveniles can be found in temperate waters, drifting with ocean currents. As they breathe air like us, they must return to the beaches to lay their eggs. They navigate back to the area in which they were born and haul themselves up the beaches at night. They dig egg chambers in the sand, before leaving the eggs to incubate alone, returning back to the sea.

Below, you can find a list of all of the various groups of Cheloniidae found in The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Genus – Those in the same genus share many characteristics and look very similar. You have nearly identified a species

Caretta caretta Caretta – Loggerhead

Cheloniidae Chelonia – Green

Eretmochelys imbricata Eretmochelys – Hawksbill

Lepidochelys – Ridleys

Natator – Flatback