Dermochelys coriacea, Vandelli, 1761

Identification

Dermochelys coriacea, from Latin, means “armored skin turtle”. The largest species of turtles has a black carapace. The carapace does not attach to the plastron at an angle, but in a smooth curve, giving a semi-cylindrical appearance. They have 7 longitudinal dorsal and 5 ventral keels. The anterior fins don´t have nails and the posterior fins are attached to the tail through a membrane. Males are distinguished by the longer tail and females have a pink spot on the top of the head. 

Biology

The leatherback turtle is the largest of all turtles, with an average size of around 2m long by 1.5m wide and 500kg. It feeds preferentially on jellyfish, but it is also known to feed on sea urchins, squid, crustaceans, fish and floating seaweed. They live on the high seas and approaches the coast to spawn. Female leatherbacks nest an average of 5 to 7 times within a nesting season, with an observed maximum of 11 nests.

Behavior

The leatherback is the largest, deepest diving, and most migratory and wide ranging of all sea turtles.

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