Leatherback Sea Turtle Pocket Journal

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Model: PJ-82
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The leatherback is the giant of marine turtles; these oceanic reptiles can reach 6-8 feet in length and weigh 1200-1600 pounds. It is the most widely distributed of all sea turtles found in the open ocean from Alaska to as far south as the tip of Africa. Leatherbacks are so named because their shells are made of a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin that looks like leather. This carapace features 7 prominent keels. It is known to be active in water below 40 degree Fahrenheit, the only reptile known to remain active in such low temperatures. A powerful swimmer, it wanders great distances at sea, and feeds primarily on jellyfish.

Leatherback females come to beachfront nesting sites at night to lay eggs in groupings of 50-150; hatchlings emerge 8-10 weeks later. Leatherbacks have been listed as endangered throughout their range. Human impact of leatherback nesting sites has negatively effected their populations. There has been much habitat lost to development, and interference from artificial lighting causes disorientation of adults and hatchlings. Off-road vehicles may cause sand compaction or directly kill hatchlings. Illegal poaching of eggs also takes a toll. In their marine environment, leatherbacks face dangers from fisheries and shrimp fleets, becoming entangled in nets. Leatherbacks eat a wide variety of marine debris such as plastic bags and balloons mistaking these for jellyfish. We would do well to keep healthy habitats for these ancient creatures.

artwork by Dan Burgevin

text by Steve Sierigk

Tags: animals,