Koh tao means turtle island, and it is the dreams of many divers to see one of these beautiful animals in the flesh. There are two types of turtle common to koh tao: The Green turtle and Hawksbill turtle. The Green and Hawksbill turtles look very similar to each other however they have some differences in appearance. The Hawksbill can be distinguished from the Green Turtle by its sharp, curving beak with prominent cutting edge, and the saw-like appearance of its shell margins.
The Green Turtle is the most typical sea turtle, possessing a teardrop-shaped carapace and a pair of large, paddle-like flippers. Despite the turtle’s common name, it is lightly-coloured all around while its carapace’s hues range from olive-brown to black in Eastern Pacific green turtles. The turtle is actually named for the greenish coloration of its fat and flesh.
The Hawksbill has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Pacific subspecies and the Green turtle can be found throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Unlike other members of the turtle family, the Green turtle is mostly herbivorous. The adults are commonly found in shallow lagoons, feeding mostly on various species of seagrass. Sponges are the principal diet of hawksbills once they enter shallow coastal waters and begin feeding on the bottom. Some of the sponges eaten by Hawksbills are known to be highly toxic and lethal when eaten by other organisms. Hawksbills are also known to feed on other invertebrates, such as comb jellies and jellyfish. This is why you must be careful with things like plastic bags as if they end up in the sea a turtle could eat it thinking it is a jellyfish. The largest Green turtle ever recorded weighed 395 kilograms whilst the Hawksbills are generally smaller with the largest recorded tipping the scales at 127 kilograms. You can see both types of turtles at many dive sites through out koh Tao, including sleeping turtles on night dives. If you do see one, make sure to keep a respectful distance and let them go about their day.