A diet of jellyfish

If you mention jellyfish to a sea turtle biologist, the first thing he will think of is a leatherback turtle as the diet of a leatherback consists exclusively of jellyfish. The digestive track of a leatherback is uniquely designed to efficiently process jellyfish prey. The green turtle, on the other hand, has a diet that consists mainly of algae and seagrasses. The anatomy of the green turtle is perfect for this diet: its finely serrated beak is ideal for scraping algae off rocks and chomping on seagrasses. However, scientist might have been wrong about this ‘vegetarian turtle’: there are more and more reports of green turtles feeding on jellyfish.

Video courtesy of Sundive Byron Bay

How is it possible that it is only discovered is recent years that green turtles eat jellyfish? Could it be that green turtles only recently developped a taste for jellyfish? More likely is the explanation that green turtles have always opportunistically eaten jellyfish but that is was underreported in the past. With more and more people using cameras to film nature, rare or unusual animal behaviours are sometimes uncovered!

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