Saturday, September 22

Giant Leatherback Turtles


Leatherback Profiles

Local name
Penyu Belimbing

Shell length
150 - 180 centimetre

300 - 600 kilogramme

Black with white or grey patches

Mainly jellyfish




Average lifespan in the world

45 years (estimated)


6 ft (2 m)

Did you know?

The largest leatherback ever found was an 8.5-foot-long (2.6-meter-long) male weighing 2,020 pounds (916 kilograms) that washed up on the West Coast of Wales in 1988.

Protection status


The leatherback is the champion of sea turtles. It grows the largest, dives the deepest, and travels the farthest of all sea turtles. The leatherback turtle is the most unusual and distinctive of all sea turtles, as it is the only turtle that lacks a hard shell. Instead, this species has a large, elongate shell which is composed of a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin, strengthened by thousands of tiny bone plates. Seven narrow ridges run down the length of the carapace, and the lower shell is whitish to black, and marked by five ridges. The body of a leatherback is barrel shaped, tapering at the posterior to a blunt point.
With this streamlined body shape and the powerful front flippers, a leatherback can swim thousands of miles across the open ocean and against fast currents. Leatherback turtles nest at intervals of two to three years. An average of six to nine egg clutches are laid approximately ten days between each nesting. Each clutch contains an average of 80 fertilized eggs the size of billiard balls and 30 smaller unfertilized eggs, which requires an approximately 65 days incubation period. The leatherback turtle can be found in tropical oceans, but they migrate to temperate waters to feed. In Malaysia, this species nest largely on the mainland beaches of Terengganu; especially along a 15 km stretch of beach centered at Rantau Abang.

Leatherback sea turtles are among the most endangered animals on the planet. These reptilian relics, part of a family of turtles that lived over 100 million years ago, are the only remaining representatives of their genus. They survived the demise of the dinosaurs and now teeter on the brink of extinction themselves.Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth,growing up to 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) in length and exceeding 2,000 pounds(907 kilograms).

They may live 45 years or more, but human threats, such as fishing lines and nets, mean most leatherbacks meet an early end.Other threats include illegal egg harvesting and loss of nesting habitat. Hatchlings often die when beachfront lighting draws them away from the ocean, and hundreds die at sea when they swallow floating plastic debris mistaken for their favorite food: jellyfish.In all, only about one in 1,000 leatherbacks survives to adulthood. The worldwide population is estimated at about 26,000 to 43,000 nesting females annually, but they are suffering exponential declines and are critically endangered throughout their range.While all other sea turtles have hard, bony shells, the smooth, black carapace of the leatherback is soft, almost rubbery to the touch.
They can dive 4,035 feet (1,230 meters) below the surface, deeper than any other turtle, and can stay down for up to 35 minutes.Their enormous range comprises the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. However, unlike other reptiles, their body temperature stays well above the surrounding water, and they have been found in the icy seas as far north as British Columbia, Canada, and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

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