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The Delaware State

SEA TURTLE PROJECT

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Dive in with Delaware Sea Turtles!

Sea Turtles can hold their breath for several hours when cool and calm but can drown in 20 minutes or less when struggling in a net. 

Delaware is home to FOUR different species of sea turtles

Learn more about the species who travel off the coast of our state, including the state's official sea turtle as voted by Delaware students: THE LOGGERHEAD.

Click the images below to learn more about our other Delaware Sea Turtles!

Kemp's Ridley

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Leatherback

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Green Sea Turtle

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THE LOGGGERHEAD SEA TURTLE

THE OFFICAL DELAWARE STATE SEA TURTLE

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leatherback
Leatherback Sea Turtle
(Dermochelys coriacea)

Anatomy:

  • Appearance: Head has a deeply notched upper jaw with 2 cusps. The leatherback is the only sea turtle that lacks a hard shell. Its carapace is large, elongated and flexible with 7 distinct ridges running the length of the animal. Composed of a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin, strengthened by thousands of tiny bone plates, the carapace does not have scales, except in hatchlings. All flippers are without claws. The carapace is dark grey or black with white or pale spots, while the plastron is whitish to black and marked by 5 ridges. Hatchlings have white blotches on carapace.

  • Hatchling size: 1.5oz  

  • Adult size: 660-1,100lbs. 4-6ft

Nesting:

  • Nest every 2-3 years; 80 fertilized and 30 unfertilized eggs in each nest; eggs incubate for 65 days; may change nesting beaches unlike other sea turtles

Fun Facts:

  • Leatherbacks undertake the longest migrations between breeding and feeding areas of any sea turtle, averaging 3,700 miles each way.

  • Unlike their reptilian relatives, leatherbacks are able to maintain warm body temperatures in cold water by using a unique set of adaptations that allows them to both generate and retain body heat.

  • Leatherbacks can dive to depths of 4,200 feet—deeper than any other turtle—and can stay down for up to 85 minutes.

  • Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on earth

  • While all other sea turtles have hard, bony shells, the inky-blue carapace of the leatherback is somewhat flexible and almost rubbery to the touch. 

  • The only reptile known to remain active in temperatures below 40 degrees.

Location:

  • Primarily found in the open ocean, as far north as Alaska and as far south as the southern tip of Africa.

Status:

  • Endangered in U.S.

Population:

  • 34,000-36,000 nesting females (estimate)

Threats:

  • Incidental catch in commercial fishing

  • Pollution

  • Human disturbance

Diet:

  • Almost exclusively jellyfish