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When researching the Dermochelys coriacea, there are many distinct features that make this species of sea turtle quite unique when being compared to other species. The Leatherback sea turtle is considered to be the largest species of marine turtle that lives on this planet today weighing anywhere from one thousand to two thousand pounds. Also, this turtle can outgrow most other turtle species. The average length of a Leatherback sea turtle is around five to six feet, but it can also grow up to seven feet long. One of the most distinguishable features of this turtle is its carapace or shell. The shell of the Leatherback sea turtle is soft and made up of bones that help support the leathery skin. Also it is important to note that this turtle’s carapace is black or dark gray in color with small white or pale spots covering the entire surface of the shell as well as its head and limbs. There are seven ridges on the carapace and five ridges on its plastron which make it different than other kinds of sea turtle such as the Caretta caretta which does not have ridges but instead has large scales that cover the entire carapace in a distinct pattern. The limbs of the Leatherback sea turtle have been used to compare this marine turtle to similar species of its kind such as the Loggerhead sea turtle. They have relatively large front flippers that allow the species to swim very fast in the water. These front flippers are almost one third of its entire body length, which is generally larger than most other sea turtles. Despite the length of their flippers, the Leatherback sea turtle is also known for having relatively flat flippers that allow it to swim fast in the water like most sea turtles. Unlike other species, the Dermochelys coriacea is known for its “paddle-like” flippers and no claws. This allows it to swim faster in the water at a speed of about thirty five kilometers per hour. There are many differences when comparing an adult Leatherback sea turtle and a Leatherback sea turtle hatchling. A hatchling does not have any distinct markings than can help differentiate it from an adult since they are both a similar dark gray or black color. Despite being the same color, the markings tend to vary. Unlike the adult, the hatchling’s white spots are not as defined in color and in shape. Another way to distinguish between the baby Leatherback sea turtle and the adult Leatherback sea turtle is by their length and weight. The Dermochelys coriacea hatchling are very tiny just after hatching from their egg. These hatchlings can weigh anywhere from thirty five to fifty grams. The Dermochelys coriacea hatchling is generally two to three inches long. On the other hand, the adult Dermochelys coriacea weighs anywhere from one thousand to two thousand pounds. Also, it can grow up to seven feet long with the average length being around five to six feet. When comparing and contrasting the male Leatherback sea turtle and the female Leatherback sea turtle, there are not many physical differences between the two. Both the male and female tend to have the same physical characteristics. However, there are small features that can help distinguish the male and female. Generally, the male and female are both similar in size with the female being slightly larger but not by much. The average Dermochelys coriacea can weigh around one thousand and five hundred pounds and grow anywhere from four to seven feet. Besides length and weight, there is one small marking that can help differentiate between the two genders. The female tends to have a “pink” spot on top of their head. This mark allows them to be easily distinguished from males. The Dermochelys coriacea is widely considered to be a pelagic sea turtle that can be found in many oceans around the world such as the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. Within these oceans, this species of sea turtle can be found in a variety of different temperatures ranging from tropical and temperate climates to even some subarctic climates. The Dermochelys coriacea is a migratory sea turtle meaning that it does not stay in the same environment for that long. This species often travels thousands of miles in order to breed and search for food. Only female Leatherback sea turtles will take the trip to tropical beaches in order to nest. These beaches and warm climate provide an ideal environment for the developing hatchlings as well as provide a plentiful food source of jellyfish to the female Leatherback sea turtles. Along the east coast of the Americas, in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, these marine organisms are found from the coast of Newfoundland, Canada all the way down south through to the coast of Buenos Aires, Argentina. And along the west coast of the Americas, in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, this species is found from the coast of Kodiak, Alaska all the way down south through to the coast of Concepción, Chile. Researchers have found that the Dermochelys coriacea is a carnivore, feeding mainly on soft invertebrates such as jellyfish and salps. This marine creature may also eat other small fish, cephalopods, snails, and small crustaceans. The Leatherback sea turtle is known for having a particularly delicate jaw. Eating anything hard can put the turtle’s jaw at risk of breaking. Despite their jaws being delicate, their jaw is sharp enough to cut through softer prey. The Leatherback sea turtle tends to hunt alone for prey often travelling great distances for large and abundant food sources. This species of turtle usually hunts in areas that contain an abundance of jellyfish. Also, the Dermochelys coriacea will also hunt for food near the surface as well as take opportunities to dive up to one thousand meters for small fish and crustaceans. The Leatherback sea turtle is not known for its defensive behaviors, but it does have a few skills and characteristics that might allow it for a better chance of survival in the dangerous open waters. It is known that the Dermochelys coriacea population has suffered over the years and as a result of this, it has become a part of the endangered species list. This species of marine turtle lived in an environment full of dangerous predators such as different kinds of sharks. Their tough and thick skin acts as a natural barrier and defense mechanism against hungry predators since its body cannot retract into the shell like most land turtles can. It is not just their skin that gives them a better chance for survival, the Leatherback sea turtle is known for its large size. Their size is used to threaten and scare most predators away. Another thing to consider is that their large paddle like flippers can help them swim away from threats at a faster speed than most species of turtle. When it comes to nests, the female will cover it with sand in order to protect it from birds and other mammals that might attack the nest as a source for food. But it is important to know that the actual adult turtle is not there to defend the nest from any outside threats. When discussing territory, this marine creature is not that densive. This turtle does not stay in a certain environment for long periods of time and often migrates to different areas to nest and feed. Reproduction and nesting can be a very extensive and important process for the average Dermochelys coriacea. The Leatherback sea turtle will travel thousands of miles between the months of April and November in order to find an ideal place to mate and lay the eggs. The males never come onto the shore and are usually never a part of the actual nesting process. When at their desired locations, males will try and mate with as many females as possible since the odds of survival for the hatchling is not very favorable. When it reaches night time, the female Leatherback sea turtle will swim ashore to begin the nesting process. The female will lay an average of five to seven nests or clutches. Within each clutch there are around fifty to one hundred and seventy eggs. From that point on, they will renest every nine or so days. After the eggs are laid in the nest, the female Dermochelys coriacea covers the nest with sand in order to hide the scent of the eggs from predators as well as regulate the temperature making it ideal for the hatchling’s development. The temperature of the inside of the egg can help determine whether or not the hatchling will become a male or a female. Higher temperatures tend to produce female turtles while lower temperatures tend to produce male turtles. Once the process is complete, the female returns back to the ocean to hunt for food. The incubation period of a Leatherback sea turtle hatchling is around fifty five to seventy five days. During this time period, the hatchling does not have the nest odds of survival. Research has proven that around fifty percent of hatchlings will survive if the nest remains undisturbed. Unfortunately most of the nests are destroyed by natural predators that roam the coastal beaches. At around sixty days, the eggs will begin to hatch and start making their way towards the ocean. From that point around ten percent of the hatched eggs will be eaten up by birds or other predators. If the hatchlings were not snatched up at that point, about a quarter of these turtles will only make it a few days in the ocean and less than ten percent of hatchlings that make it to the ocean will survive the first year.

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