Common name: Leatherback Sea Turtles

Scientific name: Dermochelys coriacae

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Testudines

Family: Dermochelyidea

Genus: Dermochelys

Species: D. coriacae

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Dermochelyidae is a family of marine turtles which has only one species the Dermochelys coriacae. This animal lives in many oceans around the world. Dermochelyidae are the biggest still existing turtles. Leatherback Sea Turtles can reach to grow up to 244cm, and can also be over 800 kg, which is 600 to 1000lbs. This is an amazing size, but some have reached a record weight of 2000lbs. These turtles have sharp points on their upper lips instead of having teeth. What makes this turtle different from others is that instead of having a hard, shelled outer covering they have oily sin and flesh. That explains why they have their common name.

 

One of this animal’s adaptations it’s physiological one. This helps it avoid loss of its body heat, which means that they can resist living different temperature areas (pole ward) compared to other turtles. They live in tropical waters just like Pacific, Atlantic, and also Indian Oceans. They’re pelagic which means they can live in open spaces like oceans and seas. Their total population is unknown.

 

Leatherback Sea Turtles nesting populations are up to 26,000 to 43,000. This number has actually fallen, because it used to be about 115,000 in the 1980’s. This shrinking has taken place, because of the decline of nesting sites. The Pacific coasts of both Costa Rica and Mexico have been identified as the largest nesting population.

 

A Leatherback Sea Turtle’s diet consists of mainly jellyfish. At the same time though they eat floating sea weed, blue algae, fish, crustaceans, tunicates, sea urchins, and squids. It is said that they can dive up to 32,000 ft. to catch its prey.

 

Adult leatherbacks don’t have many predators except sharks. Baby leatherbacks though are eaten by crabs or raccoons. When they’re in the water birds can eat them. We humans are also their predators. Some people eat them as meat. There are many interesting facts about this animal. One that caught my attention is that some have weighed up to 2,000 pounds! Also the depth they reach when they dive is pretty amazing. I learned lots of information on this animal. I never knew that a turtle can grow that huge.

 

Author: Sonia A

Published: 02/2009

 

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermochelyidae http://www.californiaherps.com/turtles/images/lbackmatthewgodfrey02.jpg http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/sea_turtles.html http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/SeaTurtles/Turtle%20Factsheets/leatherback-sea-turtle.htm http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/education/kids_times_turtle_leatherback.pdf

 

Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LeatherbackTurtle.jpg