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Leatherback Sea Turtle Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lauren Scott

Lauren has a Bachelor's degree in biology from Virginia Tech and Master's degrees in environmental science & policy and special education from Johns Hopkins University. She has 20 years of teaching experience in public, private, and informal educational settings.

This lesson will introduce you to the enormous leatherback sea turtle. You will learn about its nesting habits, its unique taste in food, and the threats it faces every day.

Leatherback Sea Turtle Characteristics

Imagine walking along the beach, and stumbling upon a turtle the size of a small car! Leatherback sea turtles are the largest sea turtles in the world, with lengths ranging from 4 to 9 feet, and weighing between 600 and 2,000 pounds. Like all sea turtles, they are marine reptiles that live in the ocean, and breathe air at the surface. They have lungs instead of gills, so they have to stick their heads out of the water to breathe. Leatherbacks are the only sea turtles to have a soft shell. That is how they got the name 'leatherback'.

Leatherbacks are the largest sea turtles in the world.
adult leatherback

Leatherback Habitat

Leatherback sea turtles live in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, occupying the open ocean, coral reefs, and shallow coasts. They are expert divers, reaching depths of over 4,000 feet! Unlike other sea turtles, they are able to produce their own body heat, allowing them to swim as far north as Canada. They have the longest migration routes of any sea turtle. They may travel over 3,500 miles each way to get to and from nesting sites and feeding grounds.

Leatherbacks have the longest migration routes of any sea turtle.
leatherback swimming

Leatherback Diet

Leatherback sea turtles have unique taste in food; they love jellies! Other sea turtles eat jellies, but they are the main diet of leatherbacks.

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