Leatherback Sea Turtle No Longer Critically Endangered
by Jeremy Hance
The leatherback sea turtle—the world’s largest turtle and the only member of the genus Dermochelys—received good news today. In an update of the IUCN Red List, the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable. However, conservationists warn that the species still remains hugely endangered—and in rapid decline—in many parts of its range.  The new assessment found that the population of leatherback turtles in the northwest Atlantic Ocean (along the US and the Caribbean) is on the road to recover due to conservation actions. While scientists aren’t sure how the southeast Atlantic population (mostly in Gabon) is faring, it remains the world’s largest population.  However, the situation in the Pacific is far more bleak. The east Pacific population has dropped by 97 percent in three leatherback generations, while the west Pacific population has fell by 80 percent during the same period…
(read more: MongaBay)
photograph by Guy Marcovaldi

Leatherback Sea Turtle No Longer Critically Endangered

by Jeremy Hance

The leatherback sea turtle—the world’s largest turtle and the only member of the genus Dermochelys—received good news today. In an update of the IUCN Red List, the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) has been moved from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable. However, conservationists warn that the species still remains hugely endangered—and in rapid decline—in many parts of its range.

The new assessment found that the population of leatherback turtles in the northwest Atlantic Ocean (along the US and the Caribbean) is on the road to recover due to conservation actions. While scientists aren’t sure how the southeast Atlantic population (mostly in Gabon) is faring, it remains the world’s largest population.

However, the situation in the Pacific is far more bleak. The east Pacific population has dropped by 97 percent in three leatherback generations, while the west Pacific population has fell by 80 percent during the same period…

(read more: MongaBay)

photograph by Guy Marcovaldi

palaeopedia
paleopedia:

The leatherback sea Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea (1761)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : TestudinesSuborder : CryptoriaFamily : DermochelyidaeGenus : DermochelysSpecies : D. coriacea
Holocene/Recent (12 000 - 0 years) Critically endangered
2,2 m long and 700 kg (size)
Oceans worldwide (map)
Leatherbacks have been viewed as unique among reptiles for their ability to maintain high body temperatures using metabolically generated heat, or endothermy. Initial studies on leatherback metabolic rates found leatherbacks had resting metabolisms around three times higher than expected for a reptile of their size…
Leatherback turtles are one of the deepest diving marine animals. Individuals have been recorded diving to depths as great as 1,280 metres. Typical dive durations are between 3 and 8 minutes, with dives of 30–70 minutes occurring infrequently…
Relatives of modern leatherback turtles have existed in some form since the first true sea turtles evolved over 110 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. The dermochelyids are close relatives of the family Cheloniidae, which contains the other six extant sea turtle species. However, their sister taxon is the extinct family Protostegidae which included other species not having a hard carapace…
(read more)

paleopedia:

The leatherback sea Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea (1761)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Testudines
Suborder : Cryptoria
Family : Dermochelyidae
Genus : Dermochelys
Species : D. coriacea

  • Holocene/Recent (12 000 - 0 years) Critically endangered
  • 2,2 m long and 700 kg (size)
  • Oceans worldwide (map)

Leatherbacks have been viewed as unique among reptiles for their ability to maintain high body temperatures using metabolically generated heat, or endothermy. Initial studies on leatherback metabolic rates found leatherbacks had resting metabolisms around three times higher than expected for a reptile of their size…

Leatherback turtles are one of the deepest diving marine animals. Individuals have been recorded diving to depths as great as 1,280 metres. Typical dive durations are between 3 and 8 minutes, with dives of 30–70 minutes occurring infrequently…

Relatives of modern leatherback turtles have existed in some form since the first true sea turtles evolved over 110 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. The dermochelyids are close relatives of the family Cheloniidae, which contains the other six extant sea turtle species. However, their sister taxon is the extinct family Protostegidae which included other species not having a hard carapace…

(read more)

Puerto Rico creates an ecological corridor to protect endangered  leatherback turtles

by Michael Graham Richard

Leatherback turtles, which are rated “critically endangered" on the IUCN’s Red List, are finally getting a break (at least, let’s hope this helps). After a 15-year fight between developers and conservationists, Puerto Rico’s government has finally decided to side with the greens and create a protected zone on the island’s coast to protect leatherbacks. Named the Northeast Ecological Corridor, the protected area is about 14 sq km (5.4 sq mi).

This will not only help leatherback turtles, but also a huge variety of other species, as the area is home to “more than 860 different types of flora and fauna.” While the developers’ hotels and resorts won’t be built, the area should become a great eco-tourist attraction, and hopefully our children will still be able to see tiny leatherbacks hatch out by the hundreds and begin their arduous journey to the sea…

(read more: TreeHugger)        

(images: T - Fotopedia; B - Luis Villanueva-Cubero)

Pacific Leatherback Turtles’ Alarming Decline Continues

by Becky Oskin

The Pacific leatherback turtle’s last population stronghold could disappear within 20 years if conservation efforts aren’t expanded, a new study finds.

Most of the Pacific Ocean’s leatherback turtles, at least 75 percent, lay their eggs at Bird’s Head Peninsula in Papua Barat, Indonesia. The number of leatherback turtle nests at the peninsula’s beaches dropped 78 percent between 1984 and 2011, the study discovered.

"If the decline continues, within 20 years it will be difficult if not impossible for the leatherback to avoid extinction," Thane Wibbels, a biologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), said in a statement. "That means the number of turtles would be so low that the species could not make a comeback."…

(read more: Live Science)            

(photos: T/BL -  NOAA; B - rustinpc/Flickr)

The Ocean Photography of Brian Skerry

by Jaymi Heimbuch

Brian Skerry’s photography is nothing short of amazing. Working as a conservation photographer, he pushes his images to do more than look nice — he wants them to inspire change, to improve how we treat the oceans and the lifeforms living in it.

Ocean Soul, his newest book, shows off the amazing photographs Skerry has taken over the years, and describes the ocean “as a place of beauty and mystery, a place in trouble, and ultimately, a place of hope that will rebound with the proper attention and care.”…

(read more: TreeHugger)

biomedicalephemera
biomedicalephemera:

Dermochelys coriacea - Leatherback Sea Turtle
The leatherback sea turtle is the only sea turtle to not have a bony shell. Instead, it has a leathery carapace, with a thick and oily skin covering it.
It is also the most hydrodynamic reptile in existence, with the unique carapace playing a key role in that distinction. Adult leatherbacks have been clocked swimming at nearly 27 mph.
Bilder-atlas zur wissenschaftlich popularen. Leopold Fitzinger, 1867.

biomedicalephemera:

Dermochelys coriacea - Leatherback Sea Turtle

The leatherback sea turtle is the only sea turtle to not have a bony shell. Instead, it has a leathery carapace, with a thick and oily skin covering it.

It is also the most hydrodynamic reptile in existence, with the unique carapace playing a key role in that distinction. Adult leatherbacks have been clocked swimming at nearly 27 mph.

Bilder-atlas zur wissenschaftlich popularen. Leopold Fitzinger, 1867.

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
by National Geo staff
Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to 7 ft (2 m) long and exceeding 2,000 lbs (900 kg). These reptilian relics are the only remaining representatives of a family of turtles that traces its evolutionary roots back more than 100 million years. Once prevalent in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic, the leatherback population is rapidly declining in many parts of the world.

While all other sea turtles have hard, bony shells, the inky-blue carapace of the leatherback is somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch. Ridges along the carapace help give it a more hydrodynamic structure. Leatherbacks can dive to depths of 4,200 ft (1,280 m)—deeper than any other turtle—and can stay down for up to 85 minutes.
Leatherbacks have the widest global distribution of all reptile species, and possibly of any vertebrate. They can be found in the tropic and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Adult leatherbacks also traverse as far north as Canada and Norway and as far south as New Zealand and South America.
Unlike their reptilian relatives, leatherbacks are able to maintain warm body temperatures in cold water by using a unique set of adaptations that allows them to both generate and retain body heat. These adaptations include large body size, changes in swimming activity and blood flow, and a thick layer of fat (click here)…
(read more: National Geo)     (photo: Brian Skerry)

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

by National Geo staff

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to 7 ft (2 m) long and exceeding 2,000 lbs (900 kg). These reptilian relics are the only remaining representatives of a family of turtles that traces its evolutionary roots back more than 100 million years. Once prevalent in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic, the leatherback population is rapidly declining in many parts of the world.

While all other sea turtles have hard, bony shells, the inky-blue carapace of the leatherback is somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch. Ridges along the carapace help give it a more hydrodynamic structure. Leatherbacks can dive to depths of 4,200 ft (1,280 m)—deeper than any other turtle—and can stay down for up to 85 minutes.

Leatherbacks have the widest global distribution of all reptile species, and possibly of any vertebrate. They can be found in the tropic and temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Adult leatherbacks also traverse as far north as Canada and Norway and as far south as New Zealand and South America.

Unlike their reptilian relatives, leatherbacks are able to maintain warm body temperatures in cold water by using a unique set of adaptations that allows them to both generate and retain body heat. These adaptations include large body size, changes in swimming activity and blood flow, and a thick layer of fat (click here)…

(read more: National Geo)     (photo: Brian Skerry)

Leatherback Sea Turtles Ride the Waves
by Daniel Strain
Talk about getting your kicks. Newly hatched leatherback sea turtles  born on beaches in Costa Rica ride the ocean’s Route 66, zipping away  from shore—and away from predators—on fast and seasonal currents, a new  study suggests. Insights into where these endangered animals swim during  their first months of life may help conservationists keep them safe  during this dangerous time.
Youth isn’t kind to leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea),  which are facing extinction in the eastern Pacific Ocean as beach  resorts and hotels spring up. “The most vulnerable part of a sea  turtle’s life is the first few years,” says Frank Paladino, a marine  biologist at Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Wayne.
First, the  bite-sized reptiles face the daunting crawl from their hatching sites to  the surf; many are picked off by crabs and great blue herons along the  way. Once in the water, things don’t get easier. Predators still abound,  and fishing nets snare an unknown but likely large number of juvenile  turtles. In all, only about 1 in every 1000 young leatherbacks will  return to the beach on which it hatched nearly a decade later to breed,  he says…
(read more: Science NOW)     (photo: George L. Shillinger)

Leatherback Sea Turtles Ride the Waves

by Daniel Strain

Talk about getting your kicks. Newly hatched leatherback sea turtles born on beaches in Costa Rica ride the ocean’s Route 66, zipping away from shore—and away from predators—on fast and seasonal currents, a new study suggests. Insights into where these endangered animals swim during their first months of life may help conservationists keep them safe during this dangerous time.

Youth isn’t kind to leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), which are facing extinction in the eastern Pacific Ocean as beach resorts and hotels spring up. “The most vulnerable part of a sea turtle’s life is the first few years,” says Frank Paladino, a marine biologist at Indiana-Purdue University in Fort Wayne.

First, the bite-sized reptiles face the daunting crawl from their hatching sites to the surf; many are picked off by crabs and great blue herons along the way. Once in the water, things don’t get easier. Predators still abound, and fishing nets snare an unknown but likely large number of juvenile turtles. In all, only about 1 in every 1000 young leatherbacks will return to the beach on which it hatched nearly a decade later to breed, he says…

(read more: Science NOW)     (photo: George L. Shillinger)

dendroica
latimes:  Sea turtle may become California’s official marine reptile

Bill would make the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle the state’s official marine reptile, joining the garibaldi (marine fish), California poppy (flower), and saber-toothed cat (fossil).
Photo:  A leatherback turtle prepares to nest and lay her eggs in Playa Caletas on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast in 2004. A proposal in California would make Pacific leatherback sea turtles the state’s official marine reptile. Credit: Project for the Conservation of Marine Turtles

latimesSea turtle may become California’s official marine reptile

Bill would make the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle the state’s official marine reptile, joining the garibaldi (marine fish), California poppy (flower), and saber-toothed cat (fossil).

Photo: A leatherback turtle prepares to nest and lay her eggs in Playa Caletas on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast in 2004. A proposal in California would make Pacific leatherback sea turtles the state’s official marine reptile. Credit: Project for the Conservation of Marine Turtles

Habitat for Leatherback Sea Turtles
 
Endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles now have nearly 42,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean to call their own. Thanks to a decision in January 2012 by the National Marine Fisheries Service, these magnificent reptiles will now be safeguarded off the U.S. West Coast.
The new rule establishes critical habitat in areas where leatherbacks feed on jellyfish after swimming 6,000 miles across the ocean from Indonesia. This is the first permanent safe haven for leatherbacks designated in continental U.S. waters and is the largest area set aside to protect sea turtle habitat in the United States or its territories.
Learn more about this decision on Oceana’s Blog.
(photo: ZA Photos)

Habitat for Leatherback Sea Turtles

Endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles now have nearly 42,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean to call their own. Thanks to a decision in January 2012 by the National Marine Fisheries Service, these magnificent reptiles will now be safeguarded off the U.S. West Coast.

The new rule establishes critical habitat in areas where leatherbacks feed on jellyfish after swimming 6,000 miles across the ocean from Indonesia. This is the first permanent safe haven for leatherbacks designated in continental U.S. waters and is the largest area set aside to protect sea turtle habitat in the United States or its territories.

Learn more about this decision on Oceana’s Blog.

(photo: ZA Photos)