The generic name Chelonia was introduced by Brongniart (1800). The specific name mydas was first used by Linnaeus (1758). The genus Chelonia is often considered to include the single species C. mydas with two distinct subspecies recognized: the East Pacific green turtle C. m. agassizii (Bocourt 1868) in the eastern Pacific (from Baja California south to Peru and west to the Galapagos Islands) and the green turtle C. m. mydas (Linnaeus 1758) in the rest of the global range (Groombridge and Luxmoore 1989). Nevertheless, there has been some controversy over the taxonomic status of the East Pacific green turtle. The nesting populations of the east Pacific differ from other forms of mydas in size, coloration, carapace shape (Cornelius 1986; Groombridge and Luxmoore 1989), as well as in osteological features (Kamezaki and Matsui 1995). Nuclear DNA analysis of Chelonia populations showed that samples from the Pacific coast of Mexico and the Galapagos Islands were closely associated and fairly remote from other populations (Karl et al. 1992), however, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analyses of the global C. mydas complex do not support the genetic distinctness of the East Pacific green turtle from Chelonia populations in other regions of the world (Bowen et al. 1992; Dutton et al. 1996). It is clear that the question of species status must ultimately be resolved by taking into account morphometric, genetic and behavioral aspects. In the absence of a thorough study of the morphology and genetics of the agassizii form, set in the context of the overall systematics of the C. mydas group, the East Pacific green turtle is considered to be a melanistic form of Chelonia mydas of the monotypic genus Chelonia for the purpose of this recovery plan.
Regardless of taxonomic designation ultimately conferred upon the melanistic form, the remaining large nesting populations of Chelonia in the east Pacific should be managed as distinctpopulation units. This document presents an agenda for the recovery of these regionally distinctand important populations.