The leatherback sea turtle is the largest turtle in the world. However, compared to the sweet and calm nature of these gentle giants, the leatherback turtle’s mouth on the inside is frightening. The turtle’s teeth are very terrifying and resemble many stalactites. These teeth extend into his stomach. Keep reading to learn more about leatherback turtles.
Leatherback sea turtles are the largest turtles on the planet
Of all the sea turtle species, the leatherback turtle is the most unique. As the only surviving member of the family Dermochelyidae, leatherback turtles have the highest migratory distribution of any reptile globally. They can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and reach over six feet in length.
The biology of leatherback sea turtles has not changed for millions of years; In fact, they’ve looked the same since the time of the dinosaurs!
Leatherback sea turtles have the most unusual mouth.
The Leatherback Sea Turtle has one of the most terrifying mouths in the world. A turtle’s mouth, esophagus, and entire stomach are lined with hundreds of sharp, stalactite-like teeth, or “papillae.” Leatherback turtles are not carnivores, as they only eat jellyfish. The sharp, backward-facing papillae help the turtle ingest a large number of slippery jellyfish by preventing the jellyfish from floating out of the turtle’s mouth. An extended esophagus, which wraps around the abdomen and back, also helps the jellyfish process. This means that any type of jellyfish, including the enormous lion’s mane and small swarms, can be handled by leatherback turtles.
Leatherback sea turtles consume up to 16,000 calories from jellyfish per day.
Although jellyfish may not be a very healthy meal, nothing goes to waste. It is believed that during the summer, leatherback turtles consume 16,000 calories per day, or about 73% of their body weight.
As humans, some of us have been exposed to the venom that jellyfish inject into their victims when they sting. However, since leatherback sea turtles are reptiles, their scales can protect them from this toxin. The leatherback turtle’s papillae help it pierce and crush its prey after it has swallowed it. Although these traits are a jellyfish’s nightmare, consuming anything else could damage a turtle’s leathery mouth. For this reason, leather dogs must actively hunt huge numbers of jellyfish.
Moreover, leatherback turtles can swallow dozens of jellyfish at once and only need 22 seconds to catch one on average. It is not surprising that leatherbacks consume 16,000 calories from a jellyfish, given that they have a 100% success rate when catching jellyfish.
Here are some facts about leatherback sea turtles.
1 Leatherback turtles get their name from their thick, rubbery-like skin.
The term “skins buck” refers to the distinctive coat of this species, which consists of a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin reinforced with a myriad of microscopic bony plates, giving it a leathery appearance. The carapace, often called the “shell”, is a large, flexible, fatty part of the body that is usually black or dark gray with white or light-spotted patterns.
2 Back turtles do not have hard shells unlike other turtles.
Leatherback sea turtles are the only species of sea turtle that do not have hard shells or scales. They have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and got their name from their tough, rubbery skin. The shell has seven edges running from front to back.
3 Leatherback sea turtles nest several times.
The leatherback turtle is the largest sea turtle and one of the largest living reptiles. After more than 100 million years of existence, the leatherback turtle is now in danger of extinction. Recent population estimates reveal that this species is rapidly disappearing across most of its range.
With some sea turtles traveling 3,700 miles in one direction on average, leatherback sea turtles make the largest-scale migrations of any sea turtle between their breeding and feeding grounds. They spend most of their lives in the water. However, females leave the water to lay eggs. Throughout the nesting season, great-backed leatherbacks lay numerous clutches of about 100 eggs, usually at intervals of eight to 12 days. Hatchling leathery young emerge from the nest about two months after the eggs have been incubated.
4 Back Turtles are exceptional divers.
Leatherback turtles have been reported to dive to depths of about 4,000 feet (1,200 metres) while searching for food. In addition, they have an underwater survival time of 85 minutes. Leatherback turtles have remarkable adaptations for deep and prolonged diving. Large reserves of oxygen are stored in the blood and muscles, and it also has unique properties such as folding of the lungs (to prevent the “bends”), pulmonary sphincter (during a dive, to redirect blood flow away from the deflated lungs and back into the body), elastic shell (to react to pressure increasing in depth), and slowing heart rate (to save energy and oxygen stores).
5 Back tortoises can swim nearly 10,000 miles a year.
The most migratory species on the planet, the leatherback sea turtle, can move up to 10,000 miles annually between feeding grounds in search of jellyfish. From the shores of the Caribbean Sea, they go up the east coast of the United States to Canada in the Atlantic Ocean. Many go across the Pacific Ocean from Southeast Asia (Malaysia and Indonesia) to California before ascending to Alaskan waters.
6 Leatherback sea turtles are some of the fastest reptiles, able to shoot bursts of up to 22 miles per hour through the water.
Leatherback turtles are also the fastest non-bird reptiles. According to the 1992 Guinness Book of World Records, the leatherback turtle can move through the water at a speed of 21.92 miles per hour or 35.28 kilometers per hour. They usually swim at 1.80 to 10.08 kilometers per hour (1.12 to 6.26 mph).
7 The largest turtle on record in the world was a leatherback that washed up on Harlech Beach, Wales in 1988.
Over thirty years ago a Leatherback Turtle was washed ashore on Harlech beach. It is now a well-loved exhibit at @Museum_Cardiff— Amgueddfa Cymru | Museum Wales (@AmgueddfaCymru) May 4, 2022
These family photos from when the turtle was first discovered have been kindly shared by Arwel Davies
What are your memories of the turtle? pic.twitter.com/9j7ny2FbY9
The largest leatherback turtle ever discovered, measuring three meters (nine feet) long, washed ashore on Harlech Beach in Gwynedd in September 1988.
Cardiff National Museum has this leatherback turtle on display. Tragically, the turtle drowned after being caught in a fishing line. When he passed away, he remained in it for nearly 100 years. The turtle, which is about three meters (nine feet) long and weighs 914 kilograms, has attracted attention from around the world as the heaviest and largest turtle ever recorded (2,016 pounds).