Three species of sea turtles are known to visit the Virgin Islands. First is a Green Turtle, seen above, named for the color of its fat and not its external coloration. I suspect it is the most common as it is the only species I have witnessed. Second, the Hawksbill turtle, known for a serrated shell near the tail, is apparently in the area, but I’ve never seen one. Finally, leatherbacks spend their lives in the deep ocean, far from land. There have been only two reports of leatherbacks in Virgin Island waters in the past 20 years.
All these animals are listed as endangered. As such, they enjoy protection in the US and most other waters. Back in the day, sea captains would bring home a turtle for feasting to celebrate the return from a long voyage. Those days are gone. Now, around the beaches of St John, the turtles are relatively abundant and, for the most part, ignore the snorkelers who have traveled thousands of miles to swim with them. They are even tolerant of the remora, which seem pretty persistent in their hitchhiking. However, I find them annoying as getting a turtle picture without a photobombing remora is becoming much more challenging.
Have you ever seen a young sea turtle? You likely won’t, as they spend their early years at sea in pelagic sargassum communities only to return to the coast to spend a vegetarian adulthood eating seagrass.