The Leatherback Sea Turtle

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The adult Leather Back weighs between 350 and 450 kg and has a carapace length of 145-165 cm. They prefer to feed on jellyfish. These sharks are easily recognizable due to their pointed jaws and pronounced pink spots on the top of their heads. The leatherback’s pink spots are also helpful in identifying the species. They are easily found in oceans around the world, including the waters near the Galapagos Islands.

Nesting beaches

Satellite telemetry data collected during the breeding season has been useful in mapping probable nesting beaches of leatherbacks. In 2005, James et al. used satellite telemetry to document leatherbacks’ migration from their high-latitude foraging areas to the beaches that host nesting activities. These findings confirmed the hypothesis that leatherbacks must mate prior to reaching their nesting beaches. The data also reveal that a high-use area occurs immediately prior to nesting. In addition, seven female leatherbacks visited the offshore area during this period.

Diet

The Leatherback eats an ectothermic diet of blubber-coated jellyfish. These animals contain most of their bodies as water, and require a high amount of energy to digest. The study was able to estimate the average daily energy requirements of individual leatherbacks, by combining their metabolic rates with measured growth rates. The study validated these simulations using metabolic data from the literature. It concluded that the Leatherback needs approximately half its body weight in jellyfish to sustain normal life.

Diving ability

The Pacific Leather Back is the fastest species of marine reptile in the world, with a maximum diving speed of 22 miles per hour (35 kilometers per hour). This remarkable ability is necessary for the turtles to maintain their body temperature and pursue prey. This unique characteristic also helps the reptiles evade predators. So, how do these reptiles dive so far? There are several possible reasons. Here are a few of them.

Predation

The biggest threat to the leatherback sea turtle is the loss of nesting beaches. While these turtles are not aggressive, they can bite humans, causing severe bruises and breaking bones. They are in serious danger of becoming extinct because of habitat loss, human encroachment, and fishing gear bycatch. Oftentimes, these turtles accidentally ingest trash in the ocean. This behavior can result in death.

Threats

Leather backs live on the ocean floor. Their transboundary migration patterns make them vulnerable to numerous threats, including bycatch in fishing gear, ship strikes, and marine debris. Listed below are some of the main threats to leatherback turtles. You can take action to protect this iconic species by following these simple tips:

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