Penyu Belimbing in Malay
It is the only sea turtle that lacks a hard shell. Its carapace is large, elongated and flexible with 7 distinct ridges running the length of the animal. All flippers are without claws. The carapace is dark grey or black with white or pale spots, while the plastron is whitish to black and marked by 5 ridges.
Size & Weight
The largest leatherback ever recorded was almost 10 feet (305 cm) from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail and weighed in at 2,019 pounds (916 kg). Weight is from 550 to 1,545 pounds (250-700 kg).
Their delicate, scissor-like jaws would be damaged by anything other than a diet of soft-bodied animals. It feeds almost exclusively on jellyfish, which are composed mostly of water and appear to be a poor source of nutrients.
Habitat & Range
Primarily found in the open ocean, from Alaska to the southern tip of Africa, leatherbacks feed in areas just offshore. Known to be active in water below 40° F, the only reptile known to remain active at such a low temperature.
Nest at intervals of 2 to 3 years, they can nest every year. Nests between 6 to 9 times per season, with an average of 10 days between nestings. Lays an average of 80 fertilized eggs, the size of billiard balls, and 30 smaller, unfertilized eggs, in each nest. Eggs incubate for about 65 days.
The greatest threats to Leatherback turtles are from incidental take in commercial fisheries, marine pollution (balloons & plastic bags in the water, are mistaken as jellyfish), habitat destruction and egg harvesting.