Leatherback hatchlings need your help to make nesting beaches and oceans safer!

All illustrations by Tracey Dorsey

The leatherback is the largest turtle in the world.

The biggest leatherback ever recorded was over 8 feet (2.5 meters) long and weighed over 2,000 pounds (916 kilograms), which is nearly as heavy as a small car! The leatherback turtle is the deepest diving reptile and can dive down to over 3,000 feet (1,000 meters). They mainly eat jellyfish and travel long distances from their nesting beach to reach the feeding grounds. Unlike other sea turtles, the leatherback does not have a hard shell. 

East Pacific leatherbacks are so rare that they are now designated as Critically Endangered.​​

The East Pacific leatherback population has declined more than 97% in recent decades, primarily caused by the harvest of eggs and bycatch in fisheries. 

Help leatherbacks and other sea turtles:

  1. Reduce, re-use, recycle. Plastic and other trash can hurt turtles because they think it is food. Try to reduce the amount of plastic you use, re-use shopping bags and recycle any waste.
  2. Skip the straw! Try not to use plastic straws or utensils because sea animals can get injured by choking on them. 
  3. Clean up your beach. Pick up any trash on the beach.
  4. Avoid releasing balloons into the air. Once deflated, they can end up in the ocean. Turtles can get hurt eating balloons or become tangled in the strings.
  5. Turn out lights and close curtains near the beach. Lights can confuse nesting turtles and hatchlings.
  6. Tell your friends what you have learned about turtles and how to protect them.

Protect leatherbacks, seabirds and marine mammals by sticking to sustainable seafood.

Next time you and your friends or family go out for sushi, avoid tuna caught on longlines or shrimp captured by bottom trawling. Instead, opt for "pole and line" caught tuna, shrimp from vessels using "turtle excluder devices", or fish or seafood from well-managed fisheries occupying lower trophic levels on the food web. If your server is unable to tell you how your fish was caught or uses vague terms like "line-caught" to describe items on the menu, you may want to reconsider your selections. Educate your friends and family, as well as the restaurants and supermarkets in your area!