• Leatherback Turtle

    Category: Sea Life

    Also known as the lute turtle, the leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all living turtles and is the second heaviest known reptile, with the first being the crocodile. Unlike other turtles, it lacks a bony shell and is instead protected by thick layers of skin and flesh.

    Leatherback Turtle

    Leatherback Turtle

    Scientific & Common Names

    Kingdom - Animalia

    Phylum - Chordata

    Class - Reptilia

    Subclass - Elasmobranchii

    Order - Testudines

    Suborder - Cryptodira

    Clade - Americhelydia

    Family - Dermochelyidae

    Genus – Dermochelys

    Species – D. coriacea

    Common Names – Leatherback, Lute Turtle, Leathery Turtle

    Characteristics

    Known to be quite docile, this gentle giant wouldn’t mind you coming over for a closer look! Leatherbacks are the largest species of sea turtle, and their shells aren't hard like other turtles (which is how they get their name).

    Breeding

    Adult male leatherbacks never leave the ocean, but females travel onto the beach to lay eggs. Pacific turtles migrate from nesting sites in Indonesia to California (6000 miles away) to eat jellyfish.

    Behavior

    Leatherbacks feed almost exclusively on jellyfish. They live in the open ocean and migrate thousands of miles to find food sources.

    History

    Because of their enormous size, leatherback sea turtles have exceedingly few natural predators when they mature, and are mostly vulnerable during the early stages of their lives. However, they are ultimately considered vulnerable due to human activities, the most detrimental of which is pollution.

    Present status

    Plastic bags are particularly harmful to Leatherbacks, as they can mistake them for the jellyfish they eat and suffocate. They are also caught accidentally in fishing nets, and are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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