Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback turtles are the world’s biggest turtles, measuring up to seven feet long and weighing over 971 Kgs. These reptiles are the only living members of a turtle family with evolutionary origins dating back to over 100 million years. The leatherback population is diminishing fast across the world, except for the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. Keep reading the article below for a thorough understanding of the species for your UPSC Prelims.

IAS aspirants can also know in detail about the Species in News important from the perspective of UPSC and other competitive exams at the linked article.

Leatherback Turtle Characteristic Features

The leatherback’s inky-blue carapace is relatively pliable and rubbery to touch, unlike the hard, bony shells of all other sea turtles. The shell has ridges that help it have a more hydrodynamic structure.

Leatherback turtles can dive to depths of 4,200 feet (the deepest for any turtle), and stay underwater for up to 85 minutes!

Leatherback Sea Turtle Population Range

Leatherback turtles have extensive worldwide distribution. They may be found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, in both tropic and temperate waters. Leatherback turtles are found in far north like Canada and Norway and in far south like New Zealand and South America.

This information is important for the Current Affairs section of any civil service examination.

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Cold Water Adaptations

Leatherbacks, unlike their reptile cousins, can sustain warm body temperatures in freezing water because of a unique set of adaptations that allow them to create and retain body heat. Large body size, variations in swimming activity and blood flow, and a thick coating of fat are among these adaptations.


Leatherback turtles have the longest migrations among marine turtles- approximately 3,700 miles each way between breeding and feeding regions. Females come ashore to nest during the breeding season after mating in the sea. Excavating holes in the sand, placing roughly 80 eggs, filling the nest, leaving a big patch of sand that makes predator identification harder, and ultimately returning to the sea are all part of their breeding routine. The sex of the hatchlings is determined by the temperature within the nest.

These facts are important for current affairs quizzes.

Threats to the Survival Of Leatherback Sea Turtle Family

Many leatherbacks die young as a result of human activities. Only approximately one in a thousand leatherback hatchlings survive to adulthood. Humans frequently remove eggs from nests to consume as food or as aphrodisiacs. Many leatherback turtles are killed by fishing lines, nets, and boats.

Leatherback turtles can potentially perish if they consume floating plastic garbage mistaken for jellyfish. Some turtles were found to be having nearly 11 pounds of plastic in their guts.

The Atlantic population looks to be constant or growing, whereas the Pacific population is rapidly dropping due to egg extraction, fisheries bycatch, coastal development, and unpredictable food availability. Leatherbacks are being tracked and studied by scientists globally to understand their conservation needs.

Leatherback Turtles Conservation

The inaugural issue (2006) of the ‘State of the World’s Sea Turtles’ report listed protection of Pacific and Eastern Atlantic populations as one of the top ten concerns in turtle conservation. The Mexican, Costa Rican, and Malaysian populations have all declined significantly. Increased fishing demands from eastern South American countries pose a threat to the East Atlantic nesting population.

The Leatherback Trust was established to protect marine turtles. The Parque Marino Las Baulas, a refuge in Costa Rica, was built by the foundation.

Your UPSC notes must include the above facts for thorough preparation.

Frequently Asked Questions on Leatherback Turtles

Write about the distribution of the Leatherback Turtle in India.

In India, Leatherbacks are primarily found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The primary nesting locations are Little Andaman Island’s South and West Bay, Kiyang and Bahua, and Great Nicobar Island’s Galathea, Alexandria, and Dagmar.

How big is the leatherback sea turtle?

The leatherback turtle is the biggest of all sea turtles and one of the world’s giant reptiles. They grow up to 2.4 metres in length and weigh up to 900 kgs. A typical adult is 1.5-1.8 metres long and weighs anything between 270 – 360 Kgs.

What are the threats to the survival of the leatherback turtles?

Leatherback sea turtles are classified as endangered species. Human activity is the most significant harm to them. Illegally poached clutches of eggs are common. The babies, occasionally being drawn to the beach resort illuminations, crawl away from the sea. Adults often fall victim to poaching and fishing gear entanglement. They’re also vulnerable to pollution and debris in the ocean, and they’ve been known to consume marine plastic waste mistakenly. Climate change is another potential threat. Increased storm frequency and severity are causing beach erosion, which is a severe danger to nesting success. Warming temperatures are a worry for the leatherback population’s long-term reproductive success.

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