Leatherback sea turtles' thick skin acts like a natural armor and is a valuable defense mechanism. However, the turtles' large size is also a deterrent for many predators, as is their ability to quickly swim away from danger.
The leatherback sea turtle is considered to be an endangered species; their numbers began dwindling in the 1980s. Their sea-dwelling predators are sharks and killer whales. However, humans are the biggest threat to these turtles. Poaching, fishing gear and trash threaten the lives of leatherbacks, especially when they are on land and moving more slowly. For instance, they are easily caught up in netting; unable to free themselves, they eventually starve.