Turtles are reptiles of the order Chelonia or Testudines. They are characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield. Colloquially, the word “turtle” is generally restricted to fresh-water and sea-dwelling Testudines. An utterly massive leatherback turtle washed ashore one afternoon, people came from far and wide to check it out. They had no idea they were looking at the world’s largest species.
It could be easy to assume the turtle here was a male due to his size, but the Oceana website explains that female leatherbacks are the only ones to go ashore. They said: “Leatherbacks spend almost all of their time in the ocean with females only coming to shore to lay eggs. For that reason, from the time they hatch and enter the surf, males will never be out of the water again and are therefore more difficult to study than females.
“Leatherback turtles are known to travel incredibly long distances during their lifetimes. In some cases, individuals may travel across entire ocean basins (e.g., the entire Pacific Ocean), after they hatch, in order to reach juvenile feeding grounds. Throughout its lifetime, a leatherback turtle may cross the ocean several times, traveling to and from preferred feeding or nesting sites. Like other marine turtles, leatherback turtles return to the region where they hatched to mate and nest.”
These incredible creatures travel thousands of miles over the course of their lives, even though some of the largest leatherbacks can grow to be over seven feet long and more than 2,000 pounds. Their size doesn’t stop them from scouring the planet for the best feeding, mating and playing grounds! Take a look at this massive leatherback here: