Leatherback Sea Turtle

Dermochelys coriacea are the largest sea turtles with breeding locations reaching as far south as southern Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, and New Zealand to Norway and the eastern coast of China. It swims in the tropical and subtropical oceans feeding mainly on jellyfish. Unlike other modern sea turtles where the shell is made up of scutes formed mostly of keratin, the Leathback’s shell is made up of leathery, thick skin which contains bony deposits forming as scales. To make up for its size, it has the most hydrodynamic body of all sea turtles, portraying a teardrop-shaped physique, ready with a large pair of front flippers that can propel them about 20 mph. Adults on average can measure up to 6 – 7 ft in length and weigh up to 550 – 1,500 lbs and are the fourth largest reptile. According to Inter-Research, Leatherback turtles can dive to depths of 4,200 ft and can maintain high body temperatures by constantly swimming to generate muscle-derived heat, metabolically. As an adult, it has very few predators, and is scarcely preyed on by other sea creatures; its biggest fear towards extinction is mankind. Leatherbacks commonly die from ingesting plastic bags floating in the ocean while mistaking them for jellyfish.

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