Leatherback Sea Turtles

By: Emorylynn Butler

Information about Leatherback Turtles

Leatherback Sea turtles, scientifically known as Dermochelys Coriacea, are endangered and almost extinct in North Carolina. This particular species is the largest sea turtle ever known and can weigh up to one ton! That is 2,000 pounds! An adult leatherback sea turtle is usually longer than an average-size man is tall. Different than any other species of sea turtles, which have hard shells, the leatherback's shell is leather-like and feels almost like rubber. Their shell is black, often speckled with white or yellow spots. These giant turtles lived 100 million years ago—back when dinosaurs lived—but their future is unpredictable due to human impact.

Where Can Leatherbacks Be Found?

Leatherbacks are open ocean species that sometimes move into shallow bays, estuaries and even river mouths. The leatherback is located world-wide but nowhere in large amounts. It is common in waters along the North Carolina coast during certain times of the year. The leatherback nests worlwide, primarily in the tropics. Nesting in the United States occurs mainly in Florida, but nesting has also occured in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
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Why are they endangered?

These sea turtles are endangered because of may reasons. They can get trapped in fishnets and debris. Pollution and contamination to their habitats are a main cause. Sea turtle eggs are a prized food for humans and animals. They are easy prey, just waiting to be dug up once the female turtle returns to the sea. Leatherback turtles are also killed for their oil. One of sea turtles favorite foods are jellyfish and this creates another threat for turtles. Floating plastic bottles, trash bags, and garbage can be ingested by turtles thinking it's food.

What Is Being Done To Protect Them?

There are being many efforts to protect this species from becoming extinct. Efforts to protect these species are focusing on the nesting beaches. Sea turtles are only nominally protected by law in most countries where nesting occurs. Another effort is allowing humans to handle the unhatched eggs (with a liscense only!)