Leatherback turtle, a huge sea turtle that is captured and cataloged in the 1700s, with the scientific name of Dermochelys Coriacea Testudo. The first specimen is still preserved, in original, at the Museum of Zoology of the University of Padua. It is a turtle from truly extraordinary dimensions and who pays the price for marine pollution, like many others of hers.
Leatherback turtle: mouth
The leatherback turtle's mouth is a small W-shaped beak, very small compared to the rest of the body, of the carapace which is a mosaic of small bone plates, smooth and thick as the skin is smooth. In English the leatherback turtle is also called "leatherback turtle ”, literally leatherback turtle.
On the carapace we see 7 longitudinal ridges, on the plastron 5 fairings and it is concave in the male and convex in the female. Another difference between the two sexes can be found in the thing that is shorter in the female specimens while in the males it can even exceed the length of the posterior flippers.
Leatherback turtle: pictures
Leatherback turtle: habitat
This turtle loves splash around in warm and temperate seas and usually it stays quiet on the high seas, approaching the coasts for only two valid reasons: to reproduce and to hunt. In Italy there are no nesting areas, in general it deposits late at night, at the beginning of summer, between 50 and 150 eggs each time in holes one meter or more deep.
The young are born after about 60 days, but very many die, one in a thousand survives on average. The leatherback turtle's diet is based on large jellyfish and occasionally fish, crustaceans and echinoderms, on average it is a species that it reproduces once every 2 or 3 years.
Leatherback turtle: dimensions
This leatherback turtle it is in fact the largest turtle in the world, as well as being the only species of the genus Dermochelys and family Dermochelyidae. Already when it is born it is 5.5 cm long which is not cheap for a turtle, as it grows it even reaches 250 cm in length, there are also from 3 meters but they are exceptions. As for weight, we are at 600-700 Kg.
Leatherback turtle: extinction
The average life of the leatherback turtle is estimated to be around 50 years old, also because, in addition to being a fast swimmer, she knows how to be aggressive if molested. The problem is that there are dangers from which one cannot defend himself as from harassers, and these are linked to the habitat in which he lives which is increasingly polluted.
In IUCN Red List was until 2013 considered critically endangered and it is still forbidden to catch it, but marine pollution puts this species in difficulty ingest floating plastic bags which it mistakes for jellyfish and does not find the nesting sites clean. In 2013 it was downgraded to critically endangered to vulnerable species but attention must remain high.
If you care about turtles and haven't seen them yet The Red Turtle, an extraordinarily original animated film, run and look for it!
Leatherback turtle: sighting
The stranding of such a turtle in the Mediterranean dates back to 2017, celebrated as an event because it hadn't really happened for years. Unfortunately she was found dead on one Calella beach, about fifty kilometers north of Barcelona, Spain. It was possible to observe his features, in all his two meters and about 700 kilos of weight.
The event is indeed an event, both because the leatherback is among the most endangered species of turtle, and because it is rare to observe them in the Mediterranean. More recent beaching of the turtle dates back to 2011, always a dead specimen, trapped in ropes and chains of buoys
Leatherback turtle: history
We have seen one of the most recent sightings, let's discover one of the first, which dates back to 1760 when a giant sea turtle was captured near Ostia and donated to the University of Padua by Pope Clement XIII.
Precisely in these circumstances, the cataloging and its representation were carried out, the first, very precious to then recognize and get to know this animal better and better. The scholar who took it upon himself to do so was fu Domenico Agostino Vandelli who also gave the tortoise its name, in 1761, of “Dermochelys Coriacea Testudo”.
Charles Linnaeus used this material to describe the species in the XII edition of Systema Naturae while in Padua the original specimen from which everything started remains, it is preserved in the Museum of Zoology of the University of Padua.
Leatherback turtle and other turtles
If there are still leatherback turtles, although few, there are other species that are completely extinct such as that ofEosphargis Lydekker. These turtles lived in the lower Eocene (Ypresiano, between 55.8 and 50.3 million years ago), we have found the fossil remains both in Europe and in North America. The interesting thing is that there are many similarities between this extinct turtle and the Leatherback, even if the former was smaller, it had a carapace of one and a half meters, maximum, very wide and flat.
If you liked this article keep following me also on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram