Detail Explanation on Giant leatherback turtle UPSC

Giant leatherback Turtle UPSC : Proposals for tourism and port development in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands have conservationists worried over the fate of some of the most important nesting populations of the Giant Leatherback turtle in this part of the Indian Ocean.


  • Giant leatherback turtle (UPSC) is the largest of the seven species of sea turtles on the planet and also the most long-ranging.
  • Leatherbacks are found in all oceans except the Arctic and the Antarctic.
  • Within the Indian Ocean, they nest only in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and are also listed in Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, according it the highest legal protection.
  • Leatherback – named for its unique shell, which is leather-like rather than hard, like other turtles.
  • Leatherbacks have delicate, scissor-like jaws.
  • Their jaws would be damaged by anything other than a diet of soft-bodied animals, so they feed almost exclusively on jellyfish.


  • They are primarily found in the open ocean, as far north as Alaska and as far south as the southern tip of Africa.
  • They are the largest sea turtle species and also one of the most migratory, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
  • Globally, leatherback status according to IUCN is listed as Vulnerable
  • Known to be active in water below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, they are the only reptile known to remain active at such a low temperature.
  • 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.
  • These adaptations include large body size, changes in swimming activity and blood flow, and a thick layer of fat.


  • Many leatherbacks meet an early end due to human activity.
  • Eggs are often taken by humans from nests to be consumed for subsistence or as aphrodisiacs. Many leatherbacks fall victim to fishing lines and nets, or are struck by boats.
  • Leatherbacks also can die if they ingest floating plastic debris mistaken for jellyfish.

Do you know?

  • Five out of the total seven species of sea turtles are known to inhabit Indian coastal waters and islands. These are:
  • Olive Ridley (Vulnerable),
  • Green (Endangered),
  • Hawksbill (Critically Endangered),
  • Loggerhead (Vulnerable) and
  • Leatherback (Vulnerable).
  • Except the Loggerhead, the remaining four species nest along the Indian coast.
  • In India, sea turtles are protected under the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
  • The eastern coastline is the feeding area for Olive Ridley, juvenile Hawksbills and Green turtles.

Role in marine ecosystem

  • Sea turtles, especially the leatherback, keep jellyfish under control, thereby helping to maintain healthy fish stocks in the oceans.
  • The Green turtle feeds on sea grass beds and by cropping the grass provide a nursery for numerous species of fish, shellfish and crustaceans.
  • The Hawksbill feeds on sponges in the reef ecosystem and opens up crevices for other marine life to live in.



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