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|Scientific name:||Dermochelys coriacea|
|Conservation status:||Vulnerable (Population decreasing)|
|Mass:||250 – 700 kg (Adult)|
|Length:||1.8 – 2.2 m (Adult)|
Giant leatherback sea turtles are among the world’s largest reptiles and by far the biggest sea turtle species. Adults can weigh between 500 and 2,000 lbs and measure from 4 – 8 feet long. They get to this enormous size by eating large amounts of jellyfish, which their body has evolved to consume.
Leatherbacks differ from other turtle species in many ways but most obviously with their shell, which is a softer and more flexible without the scales typical of other turtles.
Leatherbacks hold lots of sea turtle records including the biggest turtle, deepest dive, biggest eater, and longest traveler. These incredible animals diverged millions of years ago from other sea turtles and have evolved different characteristics from more typical sea turtles like a Green Turtle or Olive Ridley.
Until recently, leatherbacks were considered critically endangered, yet growing numbers in the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans have given hope for their survival.
This species is the most widespread of all sea turtles and is found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. In the Pacific, they can be found as far north as Alaska, and as far south as New Zealand. While in the Atlantic, they reach the Arctic Circle, and the southern tip of Africa – all as they search for jellyfish, mates, and nesting beaches.
IUCN Status: Vulnerable / Population Trend: Decreasing
Pacific populations are still considered critically endangered, due primarily to entanglement in fishing gear.