Florida Leatherback Turtle
The Florida Leatherback Turtle
Dermochelys coriacea
Photo credit: NOAA


The Endangered Reptiles of Florida



The Turtles of Florida


Endangered or Threatened Florida Sea Turtles


Endangered or Threatened Florida Freshwater Turtles


The Florida Leatherback Turtle
Dermochelys coriacea


The Leatherback Turtle has been on the Earth for more than

one hundred million years and is the largest, fastest turtle

and largest reptile in the world.

This giant ranges up to six feet long

and can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds.


These Sea Turtles are prolific travelers

and migrate around the world.

Leatherbacks are unique in that they dive deeper

and swim farther than all other Sea Turtles.

They can also be quite fast swimmers at over 21 miles an hour,

but their average is a bit slower at .50 to nearly 3 miles an hour.


According to FWC, the highest numbers of Leatherback nests in Florida are in

Palm Beach and Martin Counties with 1652 found statewide in 2011.


Habitat data on the Leatherback collected in 2011 by NMFS and FWS:

Critical Habitat Data PDF


Please go see this awesome page for a great visual display of where they are in the world!

Thank you Dr. Kochevar

A Leatherback Turtle covering her eggs

A Leatherback Turtle in Tobago covering her eggs
Photo credit: Paul Mannix


Leatherback Turtles are also in the Caribbean and have found

a protector in Suzanne Lakhan Baptiste of Trinidad

whose organization Nature Seekers has

been saving countless turtle lives since 1990.


Leatherbacks Turtles are Endangered

and were placed on the (ESA) in 1970.

Their primary threats as with the other Sea Turtles

are loss of nesting area and accidental capture,

along with egg and adult poaching.

A Leatherback Hatchling
A Leatherback Hatchling
Photo credit: Betsy Straley/USFWS


A mother will lay about 100 eggs at a time, sadly,

only about one in a thousand will survive to adulthood.

The hatchlings are approximately 2-3 inches long.


This beneficial Reptile eats a diet primarily consisting

of the jellyfish that frequently sting us at the beach.

(See comments below*)

The down side of this positive benefit, is that a great deal of

plastic is also consumed by them, mistaken for this favorite food.


*A side note on the human benefits of the Leatherback are that the higher than usual numbers

of jellyfish coming ashore recently in Volusia County and stinging visiting beach goers,

could be kept in check by the Leatherback, if there were more of them!

Please see the You-Tube video:

Leatherback Feeding on Jellyfish


Places to learn more:


Earth Justice

Victory for Endangered Sea Turtles


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Leatherback Sea Turtles


MFWC Turtle Nesting:



National Park Service

Canaveral National SeaShore


Nature Seekers




Leatherback Pictures


US Fish & Wildlife

FWS Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle Facts


Other places to learn:

Endangered Leatherback Turtles


Leatherback Sea Turtles


General Sea Turtle Information:

US Fish & Wildlife

Sea Turtle Fast Facts

Sea Turtle Information



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Last edited November 21, 2022

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