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May 19, 2011

Leatherback Turtle

The largest marine turtle and one of the largest living reptiles, the leatherback turtle, (Dermochelys coriaceathe) has survived for more than a hundred million years, but is now facing extinction. Recent estimates of numbers show that this species is declining, particularly in the Pacific where as few as 2,300 adult females now remain, making the Pacific leatherback the world's most endangered marine turtle population.
Atlantic turtle populations are more stable but scientists predict a decline due to the large numbers of adults being caught as bycatch and killed accidentally by fishing fleets. Additionally, rising sea levels and higher temperatures on Atlantic beaches pose a new threat to turtles and their offspring. Nest temperature strongly determines the sex of offspring, and a nest warming trend is reducing the number of male turtles. WWF aims to conserve leatherback turtle migratory pathways - by working with fisheries to decrease bycatch, by protecting critical nesting beaches, and by raising awareness so that local communities will protect turtles and their nests.


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