Leatherback Turtle: Dermochelys coriacea
Leatherback turtles are named for their shell, which is leather-like rather than hard like other turtles. They are the largest marine turtle species and also one of the most migratory, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Although their distribution is wide, numbers of leatherback turtles have seriously declined during the last century as a result of intense egg collection and fisheries bycatch.
WHY THEY MATTER:
Marine turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. They are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems.
Leatherback turtles consume large numbers of jellyfish which helps to keep populations of these marine organisms in check. Marine turtles, including leatherbacks, also provide a vital source of income as a draw for ecotourism in coastal communities, especially in the Coral Triangle.
- Fisheries bycatch
- Habitat loss
- Illegal trade