Leatherback Sea Turtles Facts!

Leatherback sea turtle by USFWS/Southeast cc2.0

Leatherback Sea Turtles Facts!

Leatherback sea turtle by USFWS/Southeast cc2.0

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest turtle in the world, ranging from four to eight feet in length. Unlike other turtles, the leatherback’s carapace (shell) is not covered in hard scales (scutes). Instead the shell is covered in a thin layer of leathery skin which makes the shell flexible. The turtle is dark coloured with pink spots on its body. Leatherbacks are the oldest of all sea turtle species in the world, having existed for more than 150 million years (even surviving the extinction of the dinosaurs).

Sea Turtle Diet and Temperature

The prey of the leatherback consists of exclusively soft-bodied invertebrates such as tunicates and jellyfish. It can eat twice its own body weight in food for a day. This turtle can maintain a high body temperature using metabolically generated heat. This feature allows it to endure very cold waters and dive great depths, greater than 1000 meters, and search for prey.

Sea Turtle Nesting

A leatherback turtle with eggs, photo taken on Montjoly beach (French Guiana) by Raybx973 PD Image

Once the male turtles enter the water they never leave it, but the females leave it to nest on the beaches. Nesting occurs at night. The female digs a deep nest using her rear flippers and deposits around 100 eggs. However about 20% of these eggs are rather small and yolkless. The gender of the offspring depends on the temperature of the nest – high temperatures produce females while lower temperatures produce males.

Leatherback sea turtles are featured in the following books:
25 Endangered Animals
101 Facts… Turtles!

The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about Leatherback turtles. Details of the videos featured are underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. Sea Turtles Match Breathing to Dive Depths? by NationalGeographic
  2. Leatherback Turtles Dive For Jellyfish by StanfordUniversity
  3. Turtle Escort by NationalGeographic
  4. Leatherback Turtle feeding by Andy Lewis
  5. Baby leatherback turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea by asthelotus
  6. Leatherback Turtle on beach in daylight. Very rare footage by John Swanepoel


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