Leatherback Turtle

Leatherback Turtle

Description of the Leatherback Turtle

Its shell is smooth and of dark color with crests that are distributed along, the shell is not conformed by bony shields and you can appreciate a smooth curve that gives it a semi-cylindrical appearance.

The front fins are longer compared to other species of sea turtles, in adults there may be a distance of 2.7 m from end to end. The beak is hooked and has beards pointing inward in its throat as an adaptation for its main source of food.

They have a total length of 1.83 to 2.2 meters and a weight of 250 to 700 kg.

Behavior

able to travel thousands of kilometers; its medium of orientation is the magnetic field and every year they leave the polar regions following the currents of the gulf.

The males in no time of their lives leave the sea, the females only come to the surface to lay their eggs.

It is unknown how long this species is in the wild, although in captivity it can live up to 30 years.

 

Feeding

They feed mainly on jellyfish, however, they can also hunt fish, crustaceans, squid, sea urchins and algae.

 

Reproduction

The mating takes place in the water every three or four years, and they lay their eggs on the beach where they were born.

They reach sexual maturity at 10 years and a female can spawn up to 100 eggs in a single laying.

They are polygamous, several males can mate with the same female, it is believed that this serves to ensure obtaining the highest quality sperm, although recent studies show that it actually reduces the chances of fertilization.

The females arrive at the nesting beaches where they excavate in the sand to create the nests where they will lay their eggs, this process is carried out at night to prevent high temperatures from exceeding the limit of body heat they can withstand.

110 eggs are placed of which 70 are larger and fertile while the remaining 40 are sterile and smaller, the latter serve as protection for those who will hatch.

The Leatherback turtle is the only one of all the species that performs this, after which the female covers them with sand so that they can be camouflaged so that they can incubate with the heat.

As in the case of other reptiles, the ambient temperature of the nest determines the genus of the offspring.

After 60 days of incubation, the shell is broken and all the newborns dig a path to surface and undertake their journey towards the sea during the night.

Many of them are devoured on the way by predators such as birds and reptiles.

 

Predation

Among the main terrestrial natural threats of the offspring are animals such as mongooses, raccoons, lizards, various types of birds, etc.

When arriving at the sea they also have to face several types of large fish and sharks.

Adult individuals are often prey to killer whales, sharks and even jaguars.

Nowadays, its main threat turns out to be the man hunting the adult species, collecting the eggs that are found in the nests, polluting the nesting beaches and disorienting the newly born turtles with the lights of the city, causing that instead of Go to the sea, go to the roads and fall victim to road accidents.

 

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