Leatherback seaturtle

Selina Heppell

Latin name: Dermochelys coriacea

The leatherback sea turtle is the world's largest living sea turtle, weighing up to 800 kilograms. Leatherbacks roam the oceans eating jelly organisms, even in high latitudes because they can maintain body temperature higher than sea water. In the Pacific, leatherbacks have declined steeply, but in the Northern Atlantic and Caribbean, most populations are stable or increasing. Dr. Selina Heppell developed population estimation tools with the Leatherback Expert Working Group of NOAA Fisheries.

Did you know? The Leatherback is the largest sea turtle, weighing up to 1500 pounds. It is a pelagic species that feeds on jellyfish and jelly-like organisms. It has a leathery back instead of a hard shell. Juvenile leatherbacks grow quickly and adults can live in higher latitudes because their bodies can store heat, maintaining body temperatures much higher than cold ocean waters. Their deepest dives have been recorded at 4,200 feet.


Turtle Expert Working Group. 2007. An Assessment of the Leatherback Turtle Population in the Atlantic Ocean. NOAA Technical  Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-555, 116 p. 

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