Leatherback turtle

Photograph of a leatherback turtle at Sandaig in the 1990s.


Courtesy of Mr Eric Brown

The leatherback is the world’s largest turtle. It is so named because it lacks the typical bony plates on its carapace; instead its shell is flexible and covered with a thin layer of leathery skin. It has the widest distribution of all turtles and is found throughout the world’s oceans.

Adults feed mainly on jellyfish and often undertake long-distance migrations between feeding grounds in temperate waters and nesting beaches in the tropics. Their biology is unique amongst turtles enabling them to maintain an elevated body temperature.

The leatherback is a critically endangered species. Threats to their existence include habitat loss, over-harvesting of eggs, accidental capture in fisheries, and ingestion of plastic bags mistaken for jellyfish. The turtle is this photograph died shortly after it was found.

Colour photograph of a leatherback turtle around 1990.

Latherback turtle washed ashore at Sandaig around 1990.

Object Details

Other Number: N48

Leatherback turtle washed ashore at Sandaig around 1990

Leatherbacks are the largest of all turtle species, living for up to 45 years and growing up to 2 metres long. They live in all of the world`s oceans except the Arctic and Antarctic, although their populations are in decline. This one probably died of natural causes at sea and was washed up during a storm. Several species of turtle have been recorded on Tiree`s shores.
Normal Location: Photograph Shelves: photographs – N1-99
Current Location: normal location

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