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…
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.”…
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.”…
Leatherbacks are the largest of the living turtle species. They may be over 2 m in length and can weigh up to 2000 plbs. Unlike other sea turtles, their bony shell is covered by a leathery layer of skin.
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)…
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…
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
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.
… is the largest living and most widespread species of turtle. Adults can grow to just over 6 feet (2 meters) in total body length and weigh as much as 2,016 pounds (913 kilograms)! The only living reptile that can surpass the size of these marine behemoths is the saltwater crocodile, which can grow to 23 feet (7 meters) in length and weigh more than 3,000 pounds (1,400 kilograms).
The most distinguishable characteristics of D. coriacea are a carapace that lacks a hardened layer of horny scutes and a completely scale-free body (Leatherbacks have small scales when they hatch, but slowly lose them as they grow older). The bony elements of a leatherback’s shell have been reduced to little more than a mosaic of small, irregularly shaped bones called ossicles. The resulting feel of their shell is that of thick, rubbery leather…