Return to Earth
The Leatherback Turtle One of the Largest Turtles Becoming Extinct
The leatherback turtle, many may have seen in zoos, is a very large turtle with winglike arms. It is the largest turtle in the world.
According to funanimalfactstosaveanimals.blogspot.com/2010 the Leatherback Turtle needs our help and is in danger, "Why the Leatherback Turtle Needs Our Help"
The leatherback turtle is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, with estimates that only 30,000 remain. The leatherback turtle is endangered due to loss of nesting habitat, getting accidentally caught in fishing gear and drowning, getting hit by boats and ingesting plastic, which looks like jellyfish. Sources: IUCN: The Leatherback Turtle, Vancouver Aquarium, Aqua Facts: The Leatherback Turtle"
The Mediterranean Association to save the Sea Turtles states,
"The leatherback is the largest turtle and the largest living reptile in the world. The largest ever recorded leatherback turtle was over 200cm long and weighed 917.7 kg. It was found dead on a beach in Wales in 1988 and is now in the Welsh Museum in Cardiff.
Some of the diagnostic features of leatherback turtles follow below:
Small head - takes up only 17 - 22.3% of carapace length.
Beak is weak, but sharp-edged, lacking crushing surfaces.
Upper jaw has two pointed cusps in front.
Lower jaw has a single central hook that fits in between those of the upper jaw.
Carapace reduced and formed by a mosaic of small polygonal osteodermic pieces supported by a thick matrix of cartilagenous, oily dermal tissue.
The carapace has 7 dorsal and 5 ventral keels.
Flippers large and paddle shaped, in adults they often equal or exceed half the SCL.
Claws may be visible in hatchlings but disappear in subadults and adults.
Dorsal side essentially black, with scattered white blotches.
White blotches arranged along the keels and concentrated laterally.
The underside of the turtle is whitish due to the number of white blotches.
Many have pinkish blotches on the neck, groin, shoulders and head.
Mature males and females can be as long as six and a half feet (2 m) and weigh almost 2000 lbs. (900 kg). The leatherback is the only sea turtle that lacks a hard, bony shell. A leatherback's carapace is approximately 1.5 inches (4 cm) thick and consists of leathery, oil saturated connective tissue overlaying loosely interlocking dermal bones. The carapace has seven longitudinal ridges and tapers to a blunt point. Adult leatherbacks are primarily black with a pinkish white mottled ventral surface and pale white and pink spotting on the top of the head. The front flippers lack claws and scales and are proportionally longer than in other sea turtles; back flippers are paddle-shaped. The ridged carapace and large flippers are characteristics that make the leatherback uniquely equipped for long distance foraging migrations (NOAA)."
The largest turtle ever recorded anywhere in the world washed up dead at Harlech North Wales in 1988.
It was a male leatherback that drowned after becoming entangled in buoy ropes and it weighed 916kg and measured 2.91 metres in length (pictured below). It is now on display at the National Museum and Galleries of Wales in Cardiff.