Leatherback Sea Turtle – Dermochelys coriacea

Description

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest of all species that live in the water. It also ranks as the fourth largest reptile in the world. It is only beat out by three species of crocodiles. The biggest difference of it from other sea turtles is that it doesn’t feature a hard shell. It does have layers of oily skin there instead.

You will also notice that the Leatherback Sea Turtle doesn’t have any teeth and has longer flippers than other sea turtles. Fully grown, these turtles can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds and grow to 7 feet long.

Distribution

Leatherback Sea Turtles are found all over the world where there are oceans. They are able to dive very far so they tend to enjoy the deeper waters. Some of the most common locations including Florida, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix. They tend to live in both waters that are cold and those that are warm so they are quite adaptable. Since they have to be able to dig nests with their flippers, they live in the waters along sandy beaches.

Leatherback sea turtle information.

Leatherback Sea Turtle – Dermochelys coriacea.

Diet and Feeding

They are relentless when it comes to searching for food. It is common for them to travel hundreds of miles if they must to find enough food to live on. Their main source of food comes from jellyfish. However, their bodies have a hard time digesting them so many of them die due to an intestinal blockage. They also consume other items in the water that resemble jellyfish including plastic bags.

Reproduction

The mating of Leatherback sea turtles actually takes place in the water. The time of year that they will mate depends on where they reside. Mating occurs between the ages of 8 and 15 years of age. The females seem to mature years earlier than the males. There is still plenty that isn’t known about the mating process for Leatherbacks such as how they select their mates.

Young Leatherback Turtles are hatched from eggs that are often buried in the sand on land to protect them from predators. A female can lay up to 100 eggs at a time. She will nest several times in one breeding season. The deposit of the eggs will likely be about 12 days apart. It takes between 60 and 65 days for the eggs to hatch.

Those that survive will hatch, and then instinctively move to the water. Many of them never reach the water though due to birds feeding on them. Those that do reach the water instinctively already know how to swim. They don’t have any interaction with their mother as she leaves the nest as soon as she lays her eggs. Conservation

The Leatherback Sea Turtle doesn’t have to worry too much about predators in the water. However, they need protection due to drastically low numbers. Many of them are never able to hatch due to humans and other predators getting to the eggs. Various types of pollution in the water can also cause them to become ill and die. As a result of all of this, the Leatherback Turtle is classified as an Endangered Species. It is estimated that there are approximately 115,000 of them remaining in the world.

Human Interaction

Humans continue to collect the eggs from Leatherback Turtles. In many parts of the world they are considered to be a delicacy. This has lead to a huge decline in the number of them left in the world. It is estimated that at least 1,500 of them get caught in the nets of fishermen annually as well. Those that aren’t injured or killed are tossed back into the water.