Green Sea Turtle Research at San Diego Bay

San Diego Bay Green Sea Turtles l Wrinklebutt in San Diego BayGathering Turtle Data | Power Plant Closure


Green Turtle
A Green turtle, up close and personal

photo: Lauren Hansen

Green sea turtles, along with all six other species of sea turtles, are listed as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. This means that they face a risk of extinction in the wild.

Within San Diego Bay, the turtles can most often be seen surfacing within the South San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which provides a protected foraging and rest area, as well as a prime study site for turtle biologists. The turtles’ greatest threat in San Diego Bay is being hit by boats traveling over the 5-mile/hour speed limit present throughout the southern portion of the bay.

Green sea turtles are often found from July through September off the coast of California. The southern portion of San Diego Bay supports a year-round population of approximately 60 turtles, who can often be seen foraging in eelgrass beds throughout South Bay.

close up picture of Wrinklebutt

San Diego Bay's own green turtle "Wrinklebutt"

photo: Tomo Eguchi

Local researchers have used genetics and satellite telemetry to determine that the turtles are part of the Eastern Pacific nesting populations, and migrate thousands of miles to lay their eggs on beaches off the coast of Mexico. During this migration the turtles face hazards of accidental capture in fishing gear, and illegal harvest in coastal lagoons of Baja California.  International conservation efforts are focused on reducing this mortality to enhance population recovery.