General

Leatherback Sea Turtle

posted: 11/30/15
leatherback turtle
Ariadne Van Zandbergen/Getty Images
Status: Critically Endangered
Scientific Name: Dermochelys coriacea
Size: 600-1500 pounds

The largest of all living turtle, the leatherback sea turtle calls much of the ocean its home. It migrates through both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, to feed on jellyfish where they're abundant. Unlike other sea turtles, the leatherback does not have a hard, bony shell. Instead its shell consists of leathery, oil-saturated connective tissue that lay overtop of loosely, interlocking dermal bones.

According to NOAA, the leatherback populations in the Atlantic and Caribbean are somewhat stable, however, Pacific populations are in a somewhat dire position, with Western Pacific populations declining 80 percent in recent decades and Eastern Pacific populations declining nearly 97 percent. Much of this population decrease can be traced back to an increase in intense egg collection and fisheries bycatch.

Because they are very migratory creatures, conservation efforts are made somewhat difficult. One country's efforts may be overturned by another country's actions. Still, great efforts are being made to conserve the leatherback sea turtle.

Leatherback Sea Turtles in the News

How You Can Help:

  • World Wildlife Fund: Learn more about the Leatherback Sea Turtle, conservation efforts, and what you can do to help ensure the species' survival.
  • NOAA: Learn more about the Leatherback Sea Turtle's habitat, threats, and efforts being made for conservation.
  • Sea Turtle Conservancy: Discover how you can contribute to the rehabilitation efforts for the Leatherback Sea Turtle.
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