Dermochelys coriacea   (Vandelli,  1761) (Turtle)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Reptilia

Image copyrights: Marinebio

Size: Straight carapace measuring between 150-170 cm.

Weight: Adults attain weight of nearly 500-700 kg.

Color: The color of the plastron is pale pink and white.

Head Shape: Triangular; two maxillary cups (tooth-like notch on either side of upper jaw).

This is the only living representative of the Leatherback turtles. It is largest of all the living sea turtles. The distinguishing character of the species is its shell, which is elongated and tapers to a sharp point posteriorly. The carapace is ridged and leathery and does not show any scutes like structure in adult. The carapace has 7 ridges whereas the plastron bears 5. The whole shell is covered by smooth black skin with black spots. It possesses 2 sharp cusps on the upper jaw that can seize a slippery prey.

They nest at night and have a clutch size of 90-130 eggs. The track imprints on sand vary between 172-250 cm in width. The nest is about 70 cm deep.

Synonym (s)

Common Name (s)
• Leatherback (English)
• Leatherback Turtle (English)
• Leatherback Sea Turtle (English)
• Leathery Turtle (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Meat trade. In Tamil Nadu, the carapace is broken and boiled in oil to prepare antifouling coat. The oil is also used in ethno-medicine. Also used as bait for long line shark fisheries.)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Major threats are egg predation by locals, restricted trade meat. Plastic bags in the sea take a toll of this species.)

Habitat:  Bentho Pelagic
Prey:  Jellyfish and tunicates.
IUCN Status:  Critically Endangered


• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh (Lat: 22.6) (Long: 69.5) INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Lat: 12.53) (Long: 92.82) INDIA
• Tamil Nadu INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA
• Orissa, Bhitarkanika INDIA
• Kerala, Vizhinjam (Lat: 8.36) (Long: 76.98) INDIA (Record: 1994–2002)
• Lakshadweep Islands INDIA (Record: 1977-1979)
• Kerala, Vizhinjam (Lat: 8.37) (Long: 76.95) INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Hasbun, CR; Lawrence, AJ; Samour, JH and AlGhais, SM (2000) Preliminary observation on the biology of green turtles, Chelonia mydas, from the United Arab Emirates Aquatic conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 10 311-322 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Subba Rao, NV and Sastry, DRK (2005) Fauna of Marine National Park, Gulf of Kuchchh (Gujarat) ZSI 79 pp Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Baldwin, R (1996) Marine reptiles Natural Emirates: wildlife and environment of the United Arab Emirates Trident Press 135-148 Available at - ZOOR:ZOOR13500003184
  • AlMohanna, SY and Meakins, RH (2000) First record of the leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, from Kuwait Zoology in the Middle East 21 27-29 Available at - Zoological Records
  • Frazier, J (1984) Marine turtles in the Seychelles and adjacent territories Monographiae Biologicae 55 417-468 Available at - Zoological Records
  • Disi, AM (1998) Morphometrics, distribution and ecology of chelonians in Jordan (Reptilia: Testudines) Faunistische Abhandlungen (Dresden) 21 31-41 Available at - ZOOR:ZOOR13500034699
  • Kinzelbach, R (1986) First record of the leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, from Jordan Zoology in the Middle East 1 87-88 Available at - ZOOR12300056716
  • Sommer, C; Schneider, W and Poutiers, JM (1996) The living marine resources of Somalia The living marine resources of Somalia 1-376
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  • Sealifebase Available at -
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  • Krishnapillai, S (2005) Distribution and status of sea turtles along Trivandrum coast, south Kerala Proceedings of the National Seminar on Reef Ecosystem Remediation SDMRI Special Research Publication No.9 253-255 Available at -
  • George, KC; Thomas, PA; Appukuttan, KK and Gopakumar, G (1986) Ancillary living marine resources of Lakshadweep Marine Fisheries Information Service CMFRI, Cochin 68 46-50 Available at -
  • Bhaskar, S and Whitaker, R (1983) Sea turtle resources in the Andamans Mariculture potential of Andaman and Nicobar Islands-An indicative survey Bulletin of Central Marine Fisheries Institute CMFRI, Cochin 34 94-97 Available at -
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -
  • Kannan, P; Rajagopalan, M (2007) Size composition and morphometry of incidentally captured sea turtles at Vizhinjam, South-west coast of India Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 104(3) 288-297 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Shenoy S, Berlie T and Shanker K (2011) Sea Turtles of India A Comprehensive Field Guide to Research, Monitoring and Conservation Dakshin Foundation and MCB Trust 148pp Available at - NIO

Page last updated on:2012-11-05

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