Common Name: Leatherback Sea Turtle
Scientific Name: Dermochelys Coriacea
How did the species become listed?
- First listed in 1970
- Over the past 3 generations, the population of Leatherback Sea Turtles has declined by 40.1% (1 generation= 30 years)
- This allows these sea turtles to be classified as "Vulnerable"
- By 2020, the species will no longer be classified as threatened because it will only have a 29.3% decline.
- By 2030, the population will increase and by 2040, the population will increase by 103% over 3 generations.
Where Do Leatherback Sea Turtles Live?
Threats to Leatherback Sea Turtles
- Fisheries accidentally catching the turtles with their equipment.
- Poachers targeting the turtles and their eggs for human consumption.
- Coastal development is destroying the turtles' nesting habitats so they have no where to lay their eggs.
- Pollution and pathogens in the water are affecting the health of the turtles. Turtles are ingesting pollution, becoming disoriented by artificial light, and contracting new viruses.
- Climate change is making the sand too warm for the turtles to hatch their eggs and for the baby sea turtles to survive. Sea levels are rising and an increase in storms also affect the Leatherback population.
Current Population: 34,000-94,000 Turtles
*This is just the North Atlantic Regional Management Unit (RMU). The total population of Leatherback Sea Turtles is comprised of 7 different RMUs
Status of the Population: Descreasing
- The population of mature Leatherbacks is continuing to decline.
- Predators destroy the majority of the eggs a female Leatherback will lay.
Ecology, Habitat, Systems, and Movement Patterns
- Ecology: Oceanic, deep-diving marine turtle. Feed on jellyfish, salps, and siphonopores. Females lay 3-10 clutches of 60-90 eggs each.
- Habitat: Live in tropical, subtropical, and subpolar oceans around the globe.
- System: Marine and Terrestrial
- Movement: Full Migrant movement pattern. Leatherbacks move from different feed grounds during different seasons. Also move to and from nesting areas.
Effects of Leatherback Sea Turtles on Their Ecosystem and Habitat Biodiversity
- Leatherbacks eat seagrass and keep it healthy for other organisms to thrive in it.
- The eggs that don't hatch provide nutrients to sandy beach dunes to grow healthier vegetation.
- Leatherbacks are protected under various Conventions, national and international laws, treaties, agreements, and memoranda of understanding.
- People are taking action to protect the nesting and hatching beaches where Leatherbacks nest.
- Conservationist are doing their best to prevent bycatching and consumption of Leatherbacks and their eggs.