8 Leatherback Sea Turtle Facts And Questions Answered
The leatherback sea turtle is one of the most interesting types of turtles you will find. They even stand out from the seven types of sea turtles in the world.
One of the saddest leatherback sea turtle facts is that they are under threat. If we don’t work to protect them, they could disappear forever.
We think education and awareness are important for sea turtle conservation. The more people know about these amazing creatures, the more they will want to save them. With that in mind, here are some fun questions and facts about the leatherback sea turtle.
HOW DID THEY GET THEIR NAME?
This is one of the ways leatherback sea turtles are unique from other sea turtle species. Leatherback turtles don’t have the hard shell people associate with most turtles. The leatherback carapace has a series of bony ridges and hard plates covered by tough leathery skin. This distinctive feature is the reason they have the name leatherback.
WHY IS THE LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE ENDANGERED?
Leatherback turtles are listed as endangered by the Endangered Species Act. Some organizations have them listed as vulnerable. Either way, they are under threat of extinction. While leatherback turtles face many threats, there are a few that stand out, including commercial fishing and marine pollution. Habitat loss, poaching and climate change are also serious concerns for leatherback sea turtle conservation.
HOW MANY LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLES ARE LEFT?
Navigating the stormy seas of conservation, the giant leatherback sea turtle finds themselves in precarious waters, with their global population estimated to be under 50,000. This number sounds the alarm for conservationists, as the once robust Pacific populations now count a mere 2,300 adult females among them. These dwindling figures, a drop of 40% over three generations, make a stark statement: the leatherback sea turtle's continued existence hangs in a delicate balance.
HOW BIG ARE LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLES?
This is another one of those unique leatherback sea turtle facts. The leatherback is the biggest turtle species still in existence, which is why it’s also commonly referred to as the “giant leatherback turtle”. They look huge even when next to humans! The average leatherback sea turtle weighs around 700-1,000 pounds and is usually 4-6 feet in length. With that said, the largest leatherback sea turtle on record was over 2,000 pounds and close to 10 feet in length.
HOW DEEP DO LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLES DIVE?
Leatherback turtles are known for their ability to dive deep down in the ocean. Even among sea turtles, this is very deep. Most sea turtles can dive to about 1,000 feet. For the giant leatherback turtle, depths of 3,000 feet or more are not uncommon. In fact, the deepest dive on record by a leatherback sea turtle was just short of 4,000 feet. They can dive the deepest and stay underwater for hours at a time.
WHERE DO LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLES LIVE?
Leatherback sea turtles also cover the largest geographic range of any turtle species. They can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Their nesting beaches are at tropical latitudes throughout the world. The leatherback sea turtle also has the greatest north-to-south range of all sea turtles. They can go as far north as Alaska and as far south as South Africa. They also have special adaptations that allow them to stay active at colder temperatures.
WHAT DO LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLES EAT?
Here’s a fun leatherback sea turtle fact: Leatherback turtles lack the hard jaws of their sea turtle relatives. If they eat anything too hard, it could damage their jaws. For this reason, jellyfish are the most common food for the leatherback sea turtle. Along with that, they eat some types of fish, seaweed and marine invertebrates.
HOW LONG DO LEATHERBACKS LIVE?
The average lifespan of leatherback sea turtles is unknown. Experts still don’t have the entire outline of their lifecycle. It is believed that they reach sexual maturity between the ages of 9 to 20 years. As for lifespan, it is thought that leatherback turtles live to at least 45 years. The average lifespan might even be beyond 50 years.
As the plight of the leatherback sea turtle garners attention, so does the movement to safeguard their future. One innovative way to contribute to their conservation - and all types of sea turtles - is through the purchase of sea turtle bracelets. These accessories are more than just a fashion statement—they are a beacon of hope for these ancient mariners. Each bracelet purchased supports the Sea Turtle Conservancy and is a step towards the protection of all sea turtle species, including the majestic giant leatherback turtle.