Dermochelys coriacae (leatherback turtle)

morphological characteristics

  • No scutes or bony carapace
  • Covered by a thick, leathery skin with embedded tiny bony elements
  • Claws are absent
  • Large pair of front flippers (> 3m)
  • Body length: > 2m
  • Body weight: >600 kg


The leatherback is the largest of all sea turtles, growing to over 2.5m in length and weighing as much as 600 kg.  Leatherbacks routinely swim great distances across ocean basins and can dive to depths below 1200 m.  They feed primarily on jellyfish, making them importance in maintaining the ecological balance of the open seas.