Leatherback Turtles are the largest of all sea turtles, with adult females having a mean size of 1.6 m curved carapace length and some females reaching up to 1 t in weight. Both males and females have a spindled shaped body with unscaled keeled carapaces. Adults are black with pale spots. These spots turn pinkish when out of the water as blood flows to the surface of the skin to cool the body.
Leatherback Turtle, Leathery Turtle, Luth |
Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
IUCN Red List Assessment, Dermochelys coriacea
However; future population increases will be dependent on the success of conservation actions mitigating current and future threats to this species throughout its range; especially in breeding and foraging areas; and on no new threats arising (e.g. climate change) that could cause population declines.
Threat categories affecting marine turtles; including Leatherbacks; were described by Wallace et al. (2011) as 1) Fisheries bycatch incidental capture of marine turtles in fishing gear targeting other species 2) Take direct utilization of turtles or eggs for human use (i.e. consumption; commercial products) 3) Coastal Development affecting critical turtle habitat human induced alteration of coastal environments due to construction; dredging; beach modification; etc. 4) Pollution and Pathogens marine pollution and debris that affect marine turtles (i.e. through ingestion or entanglement; disorientation caused by artificial lights); as well as impacts of pervasive pathogens (e.g. fibropapilloma virus) on turtle health 5) Climate change current and future impacts from climate change on marine turtles and their habitats (e.g. increasing sand temperatures on nesting beaches affecting hatchling sex ratios; sea level rise; storm frequency and intensity affecting nesting habitats; etc.).
Due to lack of information; pollution and pathogens was only scored as affecting three subpopulations and climate change was only scored for two subpopulations.