Sea Turtle Spotlight - The Great Leatherback!

Welcome back to the honu sea turtle spotlight!

Our last spotlight was so popular we thought we should share another, this time we're going to tell you all about the Leatherback Turtle.

Leatherbacks are the largest species of sea turtle with adults reaching around 1.8 - 2.2 meters. They can also weigh up to a whopping 700kg, which is over 110 stone, the largest recorded leatherback turtle was over 3 meters & weighed a huge 916kg!

Leatherbacks were name for their unique shells, which are composed of a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin, strengthened by thousands of tiny bone plates that makes it look “leathery.” 

A leatherback returns to sea after nesting in Grande Riviere, Trinidad. © Brian J. Hutchinson

Leatherbacks have delicate, scissor-like jaws. This means that they have a very limited diet as anything other than soft-bodied animals would damage these. So that is why they feed on a diet of jellyfish and very little else. We think it's crazy that such a huge, and largely active animal can survive on something of such little substance (they're basically just made of water!) 

Unlike other species of sea turtles, leatherback females often actually change the beaches in which they choose to nest upon, however they do usually stay within the same region when nesting.

Leatherback turtles are not local to one area and can be found worldwide. Their streamlined body shape and powerful front flippers allow them to swim thousands of miles over open ocean and against fast currents, meaning they also cover the most distance of any of the sea turtle species.

Photo credit: Guy Marcovaldi, Marine Photobank. 

Sadly, it's also true that like the Hawskbill Turtle and many other turtle species, leatherback's are also under great threat of extinction. Their greatest threat coming from marine pollution being ingested, for example balloons and plastic bags floating in the water can easily be mistaken for jellyfish. 

It's even worse to think that humans are entirely to blame for this... So by avoiding plastic bags & other single use plastics we can all help to stop these amazing turtles becoming extinct. Also, taking part in a beach clean when you are able to could also help to stop plastics getting washed away into the sea!

What is your best tip for helping to reduce pollution in our oceans? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

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