Turtles — one of the most not whimsical and unusual pets. But, in nature, there are representatives of this species, which surprise with its impressive size. One of the largest is the aquatic representative of this species — the leatherback turtle . This is one of the biggest reptiles on the planet. The leatherback turtle is called differently — gigantic.
The nature and lifestyle of the leatherback turtle
This is a huge and delightful waterfowl, can reach up to several meters in length, and weigh from 300 pounds to a ton. Its shell is not connected with the main skeleton, like the rest of its brethren.
The structure of a turtle is such that the density of its body is equal to the density of water — thanks to this, it moves freely in the oceanic expanses. The width of the wide-open flippers, the leatherback turtle, can be as much as five meters!
The head is so large that the animal cannot be drawn into its shell. For the fact, this reptile boasts excellent vision. They have huge front paws and beautiful bright specks scattered throughout the body. These reptiles simply admire their size!
Due to the significant size advantage of the front limbs, they are the main driving force for the turtle, and the rear ones act as guides. The shell, a leatherback turtle, can withstand a huge weight — up to two hundred kilograms, more than its own.
In addition, it has a different structure that distinguishes it from the shell of its fellows. It consists not of horny plates, but of a very thick and dense layer of skin. In addition, over time, the layer of skin is very coarse and creates ridges throughout the body.
Features and habitat of the leatherback turtle
Mostly habitats leatherback turtles , can be called the warm waters of the tropical oceans: the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific. But there were also cases that they were observed in waters of temperate latitudes, for example, on the shores of the Far East.
These reptiles may well live in northern latitudes. Since they are able to regulate the thermal regime. But for this big leatherback turtle will need much more food. Element, leatherback turtles, — water. All the time these animals spend in the water, they go to land only by necessity, yes — to lay eggs, and thereby prolong their genus.
And also during active hunting, that would take a little breath. In the drifting state, the leatherback turtle can not stand for hours out of the water. The leatherback turtle can be considered a lonely animal, it is not very welcome communication with his fellows.
Despite the fact that it is of impressive size, you might think that it is clumsy and slow, but the leatherback turtle can swim for very long distances and develop sprint speed. And only occasionally go on land to lay eggs there. Being on land, of course, it is not very fast, but being in the water, it’s just a super swimmer and not a transcendent hunter.
The leatherback turtle may not once be the subject of attacks and hunting of her predators. But to cope with it is not so easy, it will defend to the last. Floating huge paws and strong jaws. In addition, she has a very sharp beak, with which she is able to cope even with sharks . It is rare for some of the marine inhabitants to be lucky enough to overcome this powerful animal.
It feeds on the leatherback turtle, mainly various fish , cephalopods, can eat algae, and numerous species of crustaceans. But of course jellyfish are the favorite food for leatherback turtles . In order to get food for themselves, they have to swim to a considerable depth, up to 1000 meters.
Having caught the prey, they bite it with their beak and immediately swallow it. Moreover, the prey has almost no chance of salvation, since the entire mouth of the leathery turtle right up to the intestine is covered with spikes similar to stalactites.
Breeding and life span of the leatherback turtle
Males are distinguished from females by a longer tail and narrower shell structure in the back. Numerous studies have shown that in certain areas of the ocean coasts, large leatherback turtles come to nesting sites in groups.
For example, more than hundred clutches of these turtles were recorded off the coast of Mexico. Although laying eggs in groups is not the norm of the leatherback turtle, they may well nest and single-handedly . Leatherback turtles are ready for breeding every 2-3 years, and can lay up to one hundred eggs.
But of course not all newborn turtles will be lucky to survive. Too many predators are willing to feast on them. Only a few lucky people are able to reach the coveted ocean unharmed, where they find themselves in relative safety.
Leathery turtles make their laying in the sand near the shoreline. They carefully select the place and, with their big powerful paws, dig a place for laying eggs, after the product of the future offspring, the tortoise gently levels the sand, in order to protect their little children.
In depth, masonry can reach up to one and a half meters. This is normal if we consider the number of eggs and their size. The diameter of one egg, up to five centimeters. Nature provided a tricky trick for turtles, large eggs with small turtles, the female lays in the depth of the clutch, and on top lays small and empty ones.
And what’s interesting is that when the leatherback turtle is ready to become a mother again, she returns to the same place where she nested last time. The egg is protected by a thick durable skin shell.
During the season, under favorable conditions, the leatherback turtle can produce six such clutches, but there should be gaps of about ten days between them. The sex of babies is determined by the thermal regime inside the nest. If the weather is cool, then males are obtained, and if it is warm, then females.
Little turtles will see the world in about two months. As mentioned above, they are vulnerable, and are easy prey for predators. The main thing for new turtles — is to get to the coveted water. Those few individuals who are lucky enough to get to the ocean, at first will have to eat plankton. Gradually, in the process of growing up, they will start snacking on small jellyfish.
They grow not very fast, and in one year they grow only twenty centimeters. Until full maturity, leatherback turtles live in the upper warm layers of water. Under favorable conditions, the life of leatherback turtles is up to 50 years.