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Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea


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Leatherback, on beach
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Alternate name: Leatherback Sea Turtle

Family: Dermochelyidae, Leatherbacks view all from this family

Description Teardrop-shaped carapace, not bony. A large pair of front flippers power the turtles through the water. Like other sea turtles, the leatherback's flattened forelimbs are adapted for swimming in the open ocean. Claws are absent from both pairs of flippers. Front flippers can grow up to 2.7m (9ft). Plastron on males concave.

Dimensions 1.27-2.13m. (50-84"). Weight: 272-727kg (1,600lbs)

Endangered Status The Leatherback is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Alaska, Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. This is one of the most critically endangered species in the world. Its flesh is not generally eaten, but the Leatherback was killed in the past for its oils, which are of cosmetic value. Its eggs are prized, and much of its decline can be attributed to the poaching of its eggs and the disturbance or destruction of its nesting grounds. Individual Leatherbacks sometimes mistake plastic bags and other litter for their favorite food, jellyfish, and ingest them, often with fatal results.

Breeding Nests April-November along Florida coastline. Normally lays eggs between 9pm-12pm. Digs a 3' deep cavity. Lays 50-170, 2-2 1/2" (51-63mm) eggs. Multiple clutches laid in 10 day cycles. Hatch after 8-10 weeks.

Habitat Open seas.

Range Pacific, Indian and Atlanti Oceans.

Discussion Most hydrodynamic body of all sea turtles. Largest in existence. Jellyfish is the main source of diet. Flails its flippers when captured. Once hatchlings reach the water they are rarely seen again until they are mature.