Humans aren’t the only animals to like their meals with a little bite—or a little sting, as the case may be. A marine biologist was lucky enough to capture this unique footage of a juvenile green sea turtle munching away at a large jellyfish. Though almost all of the world’s seven species of sea turtles are omnivorous—meaning they eat pretty much anything, including jellyfish—green sea turtles are mostly herbivorous as adults. What’s interesting here is that it’s actually going for the jellyfish’s tentacles and not the bell, which would maybe have more nutrition.
See How a Green Sea Turtle Eats Cille-Spaghetti a La Carte
This turtle is a juvenile, likely between 2 and 5 years old, at a stage in its development where a more omnivorous diet is typical. A jellyfish’s tentacles do seem to be an odd choice of meal: humans are wary of their sting, which occurs when skin contact triggers small, harpoon-like structures called nematocysts to inject venoms that attack the victim’s cells.
Firstly, sea turtles are reptiles (and therefore scaly), they’re much less vulnerable to these nematocysts. This turtle’s only sensitive spot is its eyes, which it protects by closing its eyelids and shielding itself with a flipper. And it seems to suffer no ill effects from ingesting the tentacles.
Secondly, jellyfish have poisonous tentacles, which one will assume to deter the turtle from eating it. Except for closing his eyes to protect them, it doesn’t seem as though it is much concerned about it and treats it more just like it is a hot dish. Probably tasting like chili- spaghetti, this must be an aquired taste, or the young turtle feels compelled by nature to have this meal.
Lastly, it is only the juvenile green sea turtle that displays this behavior. The older turtles probably have lost their taste for this unique delicacy, or does not need whatever special nutrition the juveniles are extracting from the jellyfish. The jellyfish will probably describe them rather as juvenile delinquent turtles. As for the young turtle’s victim: if the jellyfish isn’t torn to shreds, there’s a chance it may survive to regrow its lost tentacles.
The turtle’s unique method of dealing with its chili-spaghetti-jelly dish is fascinating to see.
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Video resource: National Geographic