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Leatherback sea turtle
Temporal range: Holocene 0.012–0Ma
Female, digging in the sand
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Species:
D. coriacea
Binomial name
Dermochelys coriacea
(Vandelli, 1761)[3]
Synonyms[4]

The leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all living sea turtles. It is the fourth largest modern reptile behind three crocodilians.[5][6]

Adults average 1–1.75 metres (3.3–5.7 ft) in shell length, 1.83–2.2 metres (6.0–7.2 ft) in total length and weigh 250 to 700 kilograms (550 to 1,540 lb).[7][8] The largest ever found was over 3 metres (9.8 ft) from head to tail and weighed 916 kilograms (2,019 lb).[9] It was found on a beach on the west coast of Wales.[10]

The eggs and young are often eaten by predators, but the adults can defend themselves aggressively. Only the largest sea predators can tackle a leatherback successfully.[11]

Leatherback turtles are one of the deepest diving marine animals. They have been recorded diving to depths as great as 1,280 metres (4,200 ft).[12]

They are also the fastest-moving reptiles. The 1992 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records lists the leatherback turtle moving at 35.28 kilometres per hour (21.92 mph) in the water.[13][14] Usually, they swim at 0.5–2.8 metres per second (1.1–6.3 mph).[15]

They can live as far north as Alaska and Norway and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and the southernmost tip of New Zealand.[7] The leatherback is found in all tropical and subtropical oceans, and it also goes well into the Arctic Circle.[16]

Very little is known about how long they live. Some reports say "30 years or more",[17] while others say "50 years or more".[18]

References

  1. Wallace, B.P.; Tiwari, M.; Girondot, M. (2013). "Dermochelys coriacea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN) 2013: e.T6494A43526147. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-2.RLTS.T6494A43526147.en . https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/6494/43526147. 
  2. https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/reports/ad-hoc-species-report-input
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Rhodin.
  4. Uwe, Fritz; Havaš, Peter (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 174–176. Archived from the original on 17 December 2010. https://www.webcitation.org/5v20ztMND?url=http://www.cnah.org/pdf_files/851.pdf. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  5. "WWF - Leatherback turtle". Marine Turtles. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 16 February 2007. http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/species/about_species/species_factsheets/marine_turtles/leatherback_turtle/index.cfm. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  6. "The Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)". turtles.org. 24 January 2004. http://www.turtles.org/leatherd.htm. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Species Fact Sheet: Leatherback Sea Turtle". Caribbean Conservation Corporation & Sea Turtle Survival League. Caribbean Conservation Corporation. 29 December 2005. http://www.conserveturtles.org/information.php?page=leatherback. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  8. Wood, Gerald (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9 . 
  9. Eckert K.L. and Luginbuhl C. 1988. "Death of a giant". Marine Turtle Newsletter 43: 2–3. 
  10. Mystery of Wales turtle 'solved', BBC News, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/3588974.stm, retrieved 19 June 2012 
  11. "Sea Turtle". Seaworld. http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/seaturtle/stlongevity.html. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  12. Doyle, T.K. et al 2008. "Leatherback Turtles satellite tagged in European waters". Endangered Species Research 4: 23–31. doi:10.3354/esr00076 . 
  13. Shweky, Rachel (1999). "Speed of a Turtle or Tortoise". The Physics Factbook. http://hypertextbook.com/facts/1999/RachelShweky.shtml. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  14. McFarlan, Donald (1991). Guinness Book of Records 1992. New York: Guinness. 
  15. Swim speed and movement patterns of gravid leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) at St Croix, US Virgin Islands, Scott A. Eckert, The Journal of Experimental Biology 205, 3689-3697 (2002)
  16. Willgohs J.F. (1957). "Occurrence of the Leathery Turtle in the northern North Sea and off western Norway" (PDF). Nature 179 (4551): 163–164. doi:10.1038/179163a0 . http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v179/n4551/pdf/179163a0.pdf. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  17. Dermochelys coriacea. "Dermochelys coriacea". http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/6494/0. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  18. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. "Leatherback sea turtle". http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2723&Q=326028. Retrieved 19 June 2012.