Leatherback Sea Turtle

The leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) is the largest of the sea turtle species.  This marine giant is also the largest reptile alive today.  They weigh an average of 270-680 kilograms (600-1500 pounds) and can grow to be 2 meters (6 ½ feet) long!

 Leatherbacks are very different from the other sea turtle species.   Instead of a hard shell, they have a soft, black, leathery carapace with long ridges running from head to tail.   This body form allows leatherbacks to live in colder, deeper waters and undergo long migrations.  They feed primarily on jellyfish and can be found in small numbers on Florida’s beaches from February through May.

 

Freshly laid leatherback nest found at sunrise.

Marine Turtle Specialists excavate all of the sea turtle nests on Boca Raton's beach to record how successful each nest was.This leatherback nest had a few eggs in it that did not hatch.

 

Leatherback hatchling

Leatherback nest with data logger inserted. The tiny eggs are called spacers. They are not fertile eggs and are commonly laid by leatherback females.