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Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback Turtle or Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), is the largest among all the sea turtles and belongs to the Dermochelyidae family of the turtles. This turtle is named as leatherback turtle because of its tough and rubbery skin, which looks like leather.

Physical Description
These turtles grow up to a size of (4 to 8) feet and weigh about (225 to 900) kg. Apart from being the largest it is also the oldest of all the sea turtle species. It has distinct shell and their front flippers are longer than any other marine turtles. They do not have claws in any of the flippers. Their carapace is black or dark grey with pale or white spots on it. Their carapace is also marked by five ridges over it. And, the hatchlings of these species have white blotches on their carapace.

Habitat and Distribution
Leatherback Sea Turtles are mainly found in the open oceans from Alaska to Africa. Apart from these, they are found in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. These turtles live comfortably at the temperature below 40 degree Fahrenheit, and these are the only reptiles, which survive at such a temperature. However, these turtles live in open oceans they migrate to warm coastal region during the time of mating and nesting.

Diet
The Leatherback turtles have scissor-like jaws, which are very delicate. There is a chance that it would break if they feed on something hard. So, they feed mainly on jelly fish, which is soft to their jaws. Though jelly fish is considered to be a poor source of nutrients, these turtles can survive on this food.

Breeding / Reproduction
Males of these species always remain in water and they never leave water, whereas the female come on land for nesting. Mating in these species takes place in sea itself. The male uses biting, head movements, nuzzling or flipper movement to signal and attract the female. The fertilization process in these species is internal. However, the females are known to mate every two to three years and multiple males are known to mate with a single female. The females make nest and lay around 80 fertilized eggs and 30 unfertilized eggs in their nest. The incubation period in these species is about 65 days. Leatherback Turtle

Conservation
Leatherback Turtle is in the list of endangered species. The main reasons behind their decline in population are the harvesting of their meat and eggs by human beings, as well as commercial fishing and pollution in their natural habitat. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) have banned on harming or killing of these species. Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, declared these Leatherback turtle as vulnerable. Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992 has declared these species as endangered.

Leatherback Sea Turtle Facts
The interesting facts about the Leatherback Sea Turtle are as follows :

  • These species can dive deeper than 400 feet, which is very unique characteristics.
  • A record migratory distance was covered by these species, which is more than 19000 kilometers.