Turtles aren't known to grow into staggering sizes, and they are best known for how slow they walk and their ability to live long enough than most species in the animal kingdom. However, there are still many people who are curious enough to know what is the largest turtle ever recorded in the world. The same goes for what species of turtles grow into large ones.
If you want to meet the largest turtles in the world, you have come to the right spot. Today, we will be talking about the largest turtle in the world and other species of turtles that are known to grow large. Read further down below to learn more about them!
Meet The Largest Turtle In The World: The Leatherback Sea Turtle
The leatherback sea turtles, commonly known as the leatherbacks, are the largest turtle in the world species. They can grow for about seven feet and weigh for almost 2,000 pounds. What's more interesting is that they are the only remaining species of their kind that has lived in this world for over one hundred million years!
Leatherbacks were prevalent back in the days; they can be seen in various waters except for the Antarctic and Atlantic. Their rapid population decline can be attributed to various factors such as poaching, bycatching, pollution, climate change, and human exploitation.
Despite these various threats, mankind still possesses the biggest threat to their survival despite living for over a hundred million years. Let's get to know more about these prehistoric creatures!
These large turtles are considered to have one of the longest migrations between feeding and breeding of any species of turtles in the world, averaging around 3,600 miles each way. After the mating season, female leatherbacks go ashore and lay their eggs; they are best known for excavating deep holes in the sand and laying their eggs. Around 80 eggs are laid onto the undisturbed area of sand along the shore.
What makes these creatures unique is that temperature can determine the sexes of their offspring. Whenever the temperature hovers around 85.1 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect a mix of males and females, whereas the colder the temperature goes, the more males will hatch.
On the other hand, when the temperature is high, you can expect more females will hatch in the group. When the eggs hatch, females will spend the rest of their lives at sea until they reach sexual maturity and come back to their original nesting area to lay their eggs. Male turtles will spend the rest of their lives at sea.
Leatherbacks are scattered around the world. They have been one of the species of turtles that are widely distributed and prefer tropical and temperate climates. They can be found in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Oceans, and even the Mediterranean Sea. When leatherbacks reach maturity, they can migrate long distances reaching far north of Norway and Canada and South America and Zealand to the south.
Almost all reptiles are cold-blooded. On the other hand, Leatherbacks can maintain their body temperature despite the cold in some bodies of water. And the reason behind this is because they have these adapted features wherein they can retain and generate heat even in cold temperatures. These adaptations include a thick layer of fat, blood flow, and large body size.
While we can quickly assume that leatherbacks prefer a plant-based diet and other foods, one of their favorite food are jellyfishes and various types of gelatinous marine creatures, when leatherbacks forage for food, they are known to dive deeper into the depths of the ocean, reaching up to 4,000 feet – deeper than most turtles, and other sea creatures are capable of.
Another impressive feature of their adaptation is the spikes on their mouth which help them trap their prey and prevent them from escaping. Leatherbacks are also known to stay longer than most species of turtles underwater; they can stay underwater for almost 85 minutes.
Threats and Population
Although they have survived for a hundred million years, they are still susceptible to various factors that affect their entire population. Fortunately, their numbers are on the rise and are considered in better shape than other turtle species in recent years.
The biggest threats these leatherbacks face happen on nesting beaches, wherein coastal development in various countries around the globe has made it hard for them to lay their eggs or find suitable nesting grounds. When shores are getting closer to a community, most people find their eggs appetizing enough that they would often search for them. Animals are also factors as they can also destroy nesting areas of these turtles.
For people who don't know, for every one thousand eggs laid on the sand, only one or two can reach adulthood; anthropogenic pressures aren't helping their cause either. Another threat to leatherbacks is bycatching and commercial fishing.
Most leatherbacks get entangled in fishing nets, whereas some commercial fishing boats harvest them for their meat. Vessel strikes and marine debris make up the five major factors threatening their survival.
While most species of turtles are known for their hardened shells, leatherbacks aren't like it. Their shells almost feel rubbery and flexible. Ridges around its shell are more hydrodynamic than other sea turtles, giving them the ability to swim deeper into the depths and stay longer than most turtles.
Wrapping Things Up
If you were wondering what the largest turtle in the world is, the n be amazed at how these Leatherback Sea Turtles came out to be! They are the largest of their kind and are known to be amongst the deepest divers in the marine world. Let it be known that even though they have lived for almost 100 million years, they still face various threats to their survival, and we humans should be held accountable for the decline in their population.
It is not too late for these creatures to be saved. Thanks to various organizations' concerted efforts, the leatherback population in the Atlantic waters is on the rise. As long as people are paving the way for these creatures to be preserved, it won't be long before long that their numbers will grow and continue to live for the next hundred million years.
You can also show your love to the sea turtles no matter how big or small they are by wearing our Atolea Sea turtles-inspired jewelry. By supporting us here at Atolea, you are also playing a big role in helping us save the turtles. Every part of our profit from your purchase on our Ocean-inspired jewelry goes to Ocean conservation charities which aims to protect and preserve the ocean and all the creatures living on it.
So check out our wide selections of beautiful and meaningful Ocean-inspired jewelry now and join us in protecting and preserving the ocean!