The leatherback sea turtle, Dermochelys coriacea
, was first described by Vandelli in 1761. It is the only living member of the Dermochelyidae
family and weighs 300–600kg. It rivals the saltwater crocodile as the world’s largest living reptile. Listed as critically endangered (International Union for Conservation of Nature 1990), along with many other sea turtles it faces threats from:
- entanglement in fishing gear
- over-harvesting of eggs
- hunters who kill adults for meat and shells
The leatherback is found throughout the world’s oceans feeding on jellyfish and salps. It is also the deepest diver amongst the reptiles, reaching depths of 1,230m.It nests on beaches in the tropics where it lays 50–70 viable eggs.