The Leatherback Sea Turtle

A Look at the Endangered Amphibian

The Leatherback Sea Turtle

The leatherback sea turtle: the largest sea turtle in the world, also known as the "lute turtle". This giant being has a hard shell like all other sea turtles. Speaking in terms of taxonomy, its kingdonm is animalia; phylum: chordata; class: reptilia; order: testudines; family: dermochelyldae; genus: dermochelys; and species: dermochelys coriacea.WIKI

Some unusual characteristics is that unlike other turtles, it is made of many small bones which let it dive over 3000 feet in depths. The turtle eggs are thick and leathery on the outside unlike other reptiles and birds.WIKIA


The leatherback sea has many adaptions to survive in the cold waters and the crushing weight of the surf.WIKIA

The turtle has thick and oily skin to protect against the cold water it swims in. The turtle has a backwards spine to help in catch and eat slippery jellyfish which is the leatherback's main meal. Its forearms are modified to act like flippers to help it swim through the water very easily. Its veins and arteries are close to each other to warm the blood that is pumping in and out of the heart. The neck and limbs are not retractable, which is unique to this species, that allows the swimming to increase. NATGEOG

Reasons for Endangerment

Since the turtle's main diet is jellyfish, it mistakes plastic bags floating in the ocean as them. When the plastic bag is eaten, the turtle cannot digest it and dies soon afterwards. In fact, in the pacific ocean alone, there are more plastic bags floating around than twice the area of Texas. Other minor reasons of endangerment are due to poaching for meat and eggs. The Leatherback is attracted to light, making them swim to shore where they are most vulnerable. Plus, only 1% of them survive to adulthood.

Food Chain and Location

Leatherbacks are found all around the world, and in all oceans and even the arctic circle. In the picture below, you can see leatherback nesting sites represented by the dots. Yellow dots mean minor spotted sites and red mean major ones.WIKI

The diet of the leatherback sea turtle contains mostly of jellyfish. This may seem bad for the jellyfush, but at the same time it is controlling the jellyfish population. They migrate from nesting sites to the pacific ocean to eat the California jellyfish that live there.

How to Help!

To help this critically endangered animal, that has lived for over 100 million years, go to and get involved in the S.O.L.O (save our leatherbacks operation)! Their goal is to reverse the population decline and preserve the nesting grounds in the beaches of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. You may also volunteer to help their non-profit organization.


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"Climate Change and Sea Turtles." Climate Change and Sea Turtles. Web. 30 May 2012. <>.

"Save Our Leatherbacks Operation (S.O.L.O.)." Save Our Leatherbacks Operation (S.O.L.O.). Web. 21 May 2012. <>.