Leatherback Turtle Spotted at Ocean Isle Beach!

Leatherback Turtle at Ocean Isle Beach 3Leatherback Turtle at Ocean Isle Beach 1Leatherback Turtle at Ocean Isle Beach 2 Leatherback Turtle at Ocean Isle Beach 4 Three leatherback turtles were seen swimming by the Ocean Isle Beach Pier this week. Leatherbacks, unlike loggerheads, are not common to our coastal area and are an endangered species.

The Sea Turtle nesting season, which begins May 1st and goes through October, generally yields only loggerhead turtles.

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to seven feet long and exceeding 2,000 pounds. 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.

Leatherback TurtleWhile 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.

Their lifespan is unknown but many leatherbacks meet an early end due to human activity. It is estimated that only about one in a thousand leatherback hatchlings survive to adulthood. Many leatherbacks fall victim to fishing lines and nets or are struck by boats. Leatherbacks also can die if they ingest floating plastic debris mistaken for their favorite food: jellyfish.

Leatherback TurtleWhile it is rare that we see Leatherbacks in our waters, it’s not unusual that they would enjoy our climate, 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.

Hopefully, we see more in along our beaches soon!

Article sourced from Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Agency and National Geographic.