PORT PHILLIP BAY


Leatherback Turtle 

Dermochelys coriacea (Vandelli, 1761)

View scientific description and taxonomy

Scientific Details

Family and species level characters:
Paddle-shaped flippers without clawed feet.
Nostrils level with surface of snout.
Adult shell covered by thick skin.
Seven narrow longitudinal ridges along back.

Sources:
Cogger, H. G. (2000) Reptiles and amphibians of Australia, sixth edition.
Wilson, S. K. and Swan, G. (2008) A complete guide to reptiles, second edition.

Taxonomy

Phylum:
Chordata
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Class:
Reptilia
Subclass:
Anapsida
Order:
Testudines
Suborder:
Cryptodira
Superfamily:
Chelonioidea
Family:
Dermochelyidae
Genus:
Dermochelys
Species:
coriacea

Other Names

  • Leathery Turtle

General Description

Body dark to black above and white underneath. Shell pointed at rear and covered by leathery skin. Seven longitudinal narrow ridges along shell. Front flippers very long. Young hatchlings blue-black with white edges. Up to 3 m long.

Biology

These turtles can dive to depths over 1000 m, weigh up to 900 kg, and are the world's most widespread species of reptile. Females nest only on tropical beaches, coming to shore to lay about 80 eggs in the sand while males remain at sea. They are specialist feeders, eating only jellyfish and other drifting gelatinous invertebrates, a diet that is thought to be one of the reasons for their long distance migration into Victorian waters away from their usually tropical breeding grounds.

Habitat

Open oceans and coasts.

Open water

Distribution guide

Worldwide in tropical and temperate waters. Mainly western and eastern Australia. Occasional visitor to Victorian coastal waters and Port Phillip.

Species Group

Reptiles Turtles

Depth

Shore (0-1 m)
Shallow (1-30 m)

Water Column

Surface Midwater

Max Size

3 m

Diet

Carnivore

Commercial Species

No

Global Dispersal

Recorded in Australia

Identify

Conservation Status

  • CITES : Trade restrictions (Appendix I)
  • DSE Advisory List : Critically Endangered
  • EPBC Act 1999 : Endangered
  • IUCN Red List : Critically Endangered

Author

article author Patullo, B.

Blair Patullo is Online Producer for marine projects at Museum Victoria.

citation

Cite this page as:
Patullo, B., 2011, Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, in Taxonomic Toolkit for marine life of Port Phillip Bay, Museum Victoria, accessed 23 Sep 2017, http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au:8098/species/4127

Text: creative commons cc by licence