The leatherback turle can reach up to 180 cm in length.


The leatherback turtle weighs as much as 500 kg.


Leatherback Turtles are primarily found in the open ocean, as far north as Alaska and as far south as the southernmost tip of Africa in South Africa.


Most widely distributed of all sea turtles. Found world wide with the largest north and south range of all the sea turtle species. Leatherback Turtles are present throughout the Indian Ocean and are not uncommon in the pelagic zone around South Africa. They tend to stay away from the nearshore zone and are capable of tolerating extremely cold water during feeding movements. Leatherback Turtles are known to frequent the cold southern ocean as far as 600 km south of Cape Agulhas and are often recorded in the Benguela Current area of the West Coast.




Mating takes place at sea. Males never leave the water once they enter it, unlike females which nest on land. After encountering a female (who possibly exudes a pheromone to signal her reproductive status), the male uses head movements, nuzzling, biting, or flipper movements to determine her receptiveness. Females mate every two to three years. However, leatherbacks can breed annually. Fertilization is internal, and multiple males usually mate with a single female.


Females come ashore in bands and lay their 60 to 100 eggs in holes that have been dug in the sand. Seven weeks later, when the eggs hatch, the babies rush back to the water.

Life Expectancy

Little is known about the Leatherbacks' lifespan. Some reports claim 30 years or more while others state 50.


Leatherback turtles have few predators when they are fully grown but they are extremely vulnerable to predation in their early life stages and few survive to adulthood.