The largest of all the sea turtles, the Leatherback turtle, gets its name from its unique leathery shell; it is the only sea turtle without a hard shell and without claws on its flippers. Its shell is dark grey to black with white spots and is marked by five ridges.
An adult Leatherback turtle can grow to over 2 metres in length and weigh up to 900 kg. Leatherbacks mature between 8 and 15 years of age and are estimated to have a life span of around 45 years in the wild, but this is not well documented.
Leatherback turtles have delicate jaws and their favourite food is jellyfish. Leatherback turtles can dive to depths of over 1,200 m and can hold their breath for up to 85 minutes.
Leatherbacks are strong swimmers and regularly travel great distances, crossing entire oceans, or even moving between them. While the Leatherback is not as common in the Indian Ocean as other species of marine turtles, important nesting populations are found in and around Indonesia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Globally, the Leatherback turtle is listed as Critically Endangered.