The Biggest Turtle

Tiffany Roufs / mongabay.com

The Biggest Turtle: Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

The leatherback sea turtle is the biggest turtle on earth, growing up to 7 feet long and weighing up to 2,000 pounds. The leatherback is unique in its soft, rubbery-feeling carapace (slightly different from the typical shell), along with its ability to dive deeper than any other turtle -- 4,2000 feet and stay under for up to 85 minutes. Leatherbacks have the largest distribution of all reptile species and can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. They are able to do this because they can generate and retain body heat due to their blood flow, size, and fat layers. Once common, the leatherback is now labeled as Endangered. Although the Atlantic population seems to be stable, the Pacific population is declining at an alarming rate due to egg harvest, fishery bycatch, coastal development, and lack of food. Some Pacific populations have disappeared entirely, such as in Malaysia.

Reptiles / Turtles


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