Leatherback Turtle reptile Dermochelys coriacea - Extinction

Leatherback Turtle

Dermochelys coriacea

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Cause of Decline: Pollution

Location: Ocean

Collection: Reptiles

FMNH catalogue no. 58

The largest of all turtles (the largest ever recorded individual weighed 916 kg), the leatherback differs from other turtles as its ridged shell is flexible and leathery, hence the name. As they are able to maintain a high body temperature, leatherback turtles have the ability to dive more than 1000 metres deep in search of food. These migratory creatures are one of the few turtles that are found throughout the world and can travel as much as 7000 km in a matter of months. 

Female leatherbacks tend to choose sandy tropical beaches to nest once every one to three years. They lay as many as nine clutches of eggs each breeding season. Of those, only about one in 1000 will survive to adulthood. The sex of a hatchling is determined by temperature, which means that in line with global warming, the leatherback population could gradually be dominated by females, making the species extremely vulnerable. Added to this are the threats of beach erosion, changing ocean tides, drowning in commercial fishing nets and consuming floating plastic bags mistaken for jellyfish.

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