june 15th - leatherback turtle day
The largest of all sea turtles, and one of the largest reptiles on earth, the leatherback turtle ranges in size from 4-8 feet in length (1.2 - 2.4 meters) and weighs between 500-2,000 pounds (225 - 900 kg). The average adult measures in between 5-6 feet (1.5 - 1.8 m) and weighs 600-800 pounds (270 - 360 kg). The oldest of all sea turtle species, it has been around for more than 150 million years! They survived the extinction of the dinosaurs and thrived until the last several decades when human interactions have taken a major toll.
Leatherbacks have the widest distribution of all sea turtle species. They are found throughout the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. In the Pacific, their range extends as far north as Alaska and south beyond the southernmost tip of New Zealand. In the Atlantic, they can be found as far north as Norway and the Arctic Circle and south to the tip of Africa. They are mainly pelagic (open ocean) wanderers but migrate to tropical and subtropical coastal regions to mate and nest.
The Pacific population has declined by over 90% in the last two decades due primarily to entanglement in commercial fishing gear, particularly longlines and gillnets. Their eggs are also consumed in many parts of the world. These ancient creatures are also vulnerable to ingestion of floating marine debris like discarded plastics. Plastic bags and balloons resemble their favorite prey, jellyfish, and when ingested may block their digestive tract, preventing them from eating.
sample social media posts:
Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are not only the biggest sea turtles in the ocean... They are also the California State Marine Reptile! These iconic giants can be found chowing down on jellyfish in San Francisco Bay every autumn, stocking up on food reserves before making their long trek to breeding grounds in the South Pacific. To learn more about these gentle giants and how you can help them, visit www.SoCalSeaTurtles.org! #SeaTurtleWeek
Leatherback turtles can dive 2/3rds of a mile deep, deeper than all but a couple of the larger species of whales. Their softer shell allows them to withstand the pressure of more depth. Learn more about this fascinating species: https://www.seaturtleweek.com/leatherback-day #SeaTurtleWeek
Leatherback sea turtles are found all the way from Alaska to New Zealand. Although this species has a wide range, it is increasing threatened by coastal development where its habitat and nesting sites are disturbed by human encroachment. #SeaTurtleWeek via @hsiglobal
Photo credit: Neil Osborne