Leatherback Sea Turtle

Common Name:

Leatherback Turtle, because of its unique shell which is composed of a layer of thin, rough, rubbery skin, held in place by hundreds of small bone plates.

 

Scientific Name:

Dermochelys Coriacea

 

Class:

Reptilia

 

Family:

Dermochelyidae

 

Order:

Testudines

 

Conservation Status:

Endangered

 

Diet:

The leatherback turtle is carnivorous and feeds mainly in the open ocean on jellyfish and other soft-bodied invertebrates.

 

Size:

Approximately 130-183 cm in length, and weighs around 300-500 kg

 

Description:

The turtles head has deeply notched upper jaw, with 2 cusps. Its carapace is big, drawn-out and flexible, with 7 distinct ridges usually going through it. The carapace has black and white dots, while the plastron is whitish to black and marked by 5 ridges. Hatchlings have white blotches on their carapace. None of the turtle’s flippers have claws.

 

Breeding:

Female leatherbacks nest an average of 5 to 7 times within a nesting season, with an observed maximum of 11 nests. The average interesting interval is about 9 to 10 days. The nests are constructed at night in clutches with an average of 80 to 85 yoked eggs. The white spherical eggs are approximately 2 inches in diameter. Typically, incubation takes from 55 to 75 days, and emergence of the hatchlings occurs at night. Most leatherbacks emigrate to their nesting beaches at 2 to 3-year intervals’. Leatherbacks are believed to reach sexual maturity in about 16 years.

 

Habitat:

The leatherback is the most pelagic [open ocean dwelling] of the sea turtles. Adult females require sandy nesting beaches backed with vegetation and sloped sufficiently so the distance to dry sand is limited. Their preferred beaches have proximity to deep water and generally rough seas.

 

Life Span:

The leatherback lives for around 80 years

 

Interesting Fact:

The leatherback sea turtle is the largest living reptile and the largest sea turtle.

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