Leatherback Sea Turtles

An Endangered Species

Basic Information

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to eight feet long and exceeding 2,000 pounds. Once prevalent in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic, the leatherback population is rapidly declining in many parts of the world. They travel farther then any other turtle averaging 3,700 miles.

Whats Killing Them?

It is estimated that only about one in a thousand leatherback hatchlings survive to adulthood. Many leatherbacks fall victim to fishing lines and nets, or are struck by boats. Leatherbacks also can die if they ingest floating plastic debris mistaken for jellyfish. The number of leatherbacks in the Atlantic appears to be stable or increasing, but the Pacific population is declining at an alarming rate due to egg harvest, fishery bycatch, coastal development, and highly variable food availability. Some Pacific populations have disappeared entirely from certain areas, such as Malaysia.
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