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What are some facts about leatherback sea turtles?

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Quick Answer

According to National Geographic, leatherback sea turtles are the largest turtles on Earth, have soft and rubbery shells and thrive in a number of habitats. They live in the frigid waters around Canada and Norway, the temperate waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the tropical waters around South America.

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Full Answer

Leatherback sea turtles grow to a whopping 7 feet and can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. The largest leatherback sea turtle was documented at 8.5 feet long and 2,020 pounds. They live for about 45 years in the wild and have shells that, instead of being bony, are rubbery and leathery. This shell flexibility enables the turtles to be more hydrodynamic. They dive down to 4,200 feet for over an hour at a time.

Leatherback sea turtles migrate a total of 7,400 miles a year in order to eat, mate and breed. Females lay their eggs in nests dug at sandy beaches. After laying 80 eggs and covering them with sand, the females return to sea. Meanwhile, the gender of the hatchlings depends on the temperature of the nest, with lower temperatures producing males and higher temperatures producing females. It takes a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit for a mix of both genders. Once males hatch and make it to the sea, they never return to land.

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