Leatherback Sea Turtles

By: David Robson & Bryan Maenz

Leatherback Turtles are the biggest living turtles. The average weight of a Leatherback is 200-700 kilograms. They have a carapace (shell) that is on average 155 cm long. Leatherback Turtles are shaped like barrels and have tooth-like things on their upper jaw. Their 4 inch thick carapaces are made of tough oil-saturated connective tissue.

Leatherback Turtles live around Nova Scotia, Cape Sable, South of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sadly, on June 2, 1970, Leatherback Turtles ended up on the endangered species list. There are only 20,000-30,000 females left world wide.

One reason Leatherbacks are endangered is because humans kill and poach them for their meat, oils, and eggs. Also, eggs are lost due to the erosion of beaches that are used for nesting. The development of beach fronts leaves no room for nesting Leatherbacks. Adult and baby turtles are attracted to light and this causes them to come out of the ocean where there is a high risk of death. Mechanical rakes and other related machinery squish Leatherback Turtle's nests. Other threats include parties on the beaches and off road vehicles that disturb and squish eggs and nests.

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