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Leatherback Turtle

Leatherback Turtle

Dermochelys coriacea

The largest turtles on earth, and differing from all other sea turtles in that rather than having a hard bony shell, their blue carapace is soft and 'rubbery'. It has ridges along the length of the carapace which allow for better hydrodynamics.

They can reach lengths of up to 7 feet, and weigh as much as 900 kilograms.

Seldom seen off the East African coast, the Leatherback is the most widely distributed of all sea turtles. Unique to sea turtles, they have adapted to generate and retain body heat allowing them to penetrate further into the temperate waters beyond the tropics.

They predominantly feed on jelly fish, which leaves them highly vulnerable to the ever increasing plastic bags which closely resemble jelly fish when drifting in the ocean. Ingesting such plastics lead to the turtle's death.

Listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.


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Swahili Coast Natural History Reading List

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