Leatherback sea turtle

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Leatherback sea turtle
A leatherback sea turtle digging in the sand
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Dermochelyidae
Genus: Dermochelys
Binomial name
Dermochelys coriacea

The leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all living sea turtles. It is the fourth largest modern reptile behind three crocodilians.[1][2]

Adults average 1–1.75 metres (3.3–5.7 ft) in shell length, 1.83–2.2 metres (6.0–7.2 ft) in total length and weigh 250 to 700 kilograms (550 to 1,540 lb).[3][4] The largest ever found was over 3 metres (9.8 ft) from head to tail and weighed 916 kilograms (2,019 lb).[5] It was found on a beach on the west coast of Wales.[6]

The eggs and young are often eaten by predators, but the adults can defend themselves aggressively. Only the largest sea predators can tackle a leatherback successfully.[7]

Leatherback turtles are one of the deepest diving marine animals. They have been recorded diving to depths as great as 1,280 metres (4,200 ft).[8]

They are also the fastest-moving reptiles. The 1992 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records lists the leatherback turtle moving at 35.28 kilometres per hour (21.92 mph) in the water.[9][10] Usually, they swim at 0.5–2.8 metres per second (1.1–6.3 mph).[11]

They can live as far north as Alaska and Norway and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and the southernmost tip of New Zealand.[3] The leatherback is found in all tropical and subtropical oceans, and it also goes well into the Arctic Circle.[12]

Very little is known about how long they live. Some reports say "30 years or more",[13] while others say "50 years or more".[14]

References[change | change source]

  1. "WWF - Leatherback turtle". Marine Turtles. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 16 February 2007. http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/species/about_species/species_factsheets/marine_turtles/leatherback_turtle/index.cfm. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  2. "The Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)". turtles.org. 24 January 2004. http://www.turtles.org/leatherd.htm. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Species Fact Sheet: Leatherback Sea Turtle". Caribbean Conservation Corporation & Sea Turtle Survival League. Caribbean Conservation Corporation. 29 December 2005. http://www.conserveturtles.org/information.php?page=leatherback. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  4. Wood, Gerald (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9.
  5. Eckert K.L. and Luginbuhl C. 1988. "Death of a giant". Marine Turtle Newsletter 43: 2–3.
  6. Mystery of Wales turtle 'solved', BBC News, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/3588974.stm, retrieved 19 June 2012
  7. "Sea Turtle". Seaworld. http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/seaturtle/stlongevity.html. Retrieved 2011-09-02.
  8. Doyle, T.K. et al 2008. "Leatherback Turtles satellite tagged in European waters". Endangered Species Research 4: 23–31. doi:10.3354/esr00076.
  9. Shweky, Rachel (1999). "Speed of a Turtle or Tortoise". The Physics Factbook. http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/RachelShweky.shtml. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  10. McFarlan, Donald (1991). Guinness Book of Records 1992. New York: Guinness.
  11. Swim speed and movement patterns of gravid leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) at St Croix, US Virgin Islands, Scott A. Eckert, The Journal of Experimental Biology 205, 3689-3697 (2002)
  12. Willgohs J.F. (1957). "Occurrence of the Leathery Turtle in the northern North Sea and off western Norway" (PDF). Nature 179 (4551): 163–164. doi:10.1038/179163a0. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v179/n4551/pdf/179163a0.pdf. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  13. Dermochelys coriacea. "Dermochelys coriacea". http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/6494/0. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  14. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "Leatherback sea turtle". http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2723&Q=326028. Retrieved 19 June 2012.