What Do Leatherback Turtles Eat?

leatherback-turtles-eat Credit: Wayne Lynch/All Canada Photos/Getty Images

Leatherback turtles are migratory animals that survive on a diet that consists primarily of jellyfish. Because their foraging locations are populated by large fisheries, these aquatic reptiles are at a great risk of becoming endangered due to boating and netting accidents.

Although leatherback turtles feed on any small fish and even aquatic vegetation, they travel long distances in order to secure their favorite prey, which is jellyfish. These behemoths grow to be over 6 feet long and are the largest aquatic reptiles in the world. Because of their massive size, they have massive caloric needs that keep them constantly in search for food. They are also very slow to mature sexually, which leads to an imbalance between their death and birth rates.

All over the world, populations of leatherback turtles make mass migrations in search of more abundant sustenance. This leads to trouble for the turtles, as these spots are typically also populated by large fisheries. Death by netting or other fishing boat accidents is common among leatherbacks and is cause for alarm to the wildlife preservation community, which fears these gentle giants' eventual extinction.

Some populations of turtles are opting for greater distance food migrations to evade humans. This promising fact might be the difference between their continued survival or eventual extinction.