……objective science for conservation…….

The Pacific WildLife Foundation is a non-profit coastal and marine research and education society  that inspires an appreciation for objective scientific research and conservation of the ocean. We conduct original research, develop novel education programs, and inspire an appreciation for conservation of the ocean. 

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Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle Dermochelys coriacea

The leatherback turtle is the sole surviving member of the family Dermochelyidae that arose 100 million years ago. It is the largest marine turtle with the widest range of any reptile. It has been seen in every ocean in the world. The sea turtle spends all of its life at sea except when it comes ashore to reproduce. Young turtles seem to prefer the warmth of tropical waters while the adults seek out cooler temperate oceans where food is plentiful (Shoop and Kenney 1992, Lutcavage 1996). An estimated 50 000 leatherback turtles were likely killed incidentally by the pelagic longline fishery in 2000. The Pacific leatherback turtle is thought to have declined by 80–95%

in the last 20 years (Lewison 2004). The survival of this species is in serious jeopardy (Sotila et al. 2000, Commission for Environmental Cooperation 2005)



Commission for Environmental Cooperation. 2005. North American Conservation Action Plan: Pacific leatherback sea turtle. Montreal, Canada.


Eckert, S.A. 2002. Distribution of juvenile leatherback sea turtle Dermochelys coriacea sightings. Marine Ecology Progress Series 230: 289-293.


Eisenberg, J.F. and J. Frazier. 1983. A leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) feeding in the wild. Journal of Herpetology 17:81-82.


Ernst, C. H. and R. W. Barbour 1989. Turtles of the world. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.


Hartog, J. C. den. 1980. Notes on the food of sea turtles: Eretmochelys imbricata (Linnaeus) and Dermochelys coriacea (Linnaeus). Netherlands Journal of Zoology 30:595-610.


Lutcavage, M. 1996. Planning your next meal: leatherback travel routes and ocean fronts. Pp. 174-178 in J. Keinath, D. Barnard, J. A. Musick and B.A. Bell (eds.). Proceedings of the 15th annual symposium on sea turtle biology and conservation. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC 387.


Lewison, R. L., S. A. Freeman and L. B. Crowder. 2004. Quantifying the effects of fisheries on threatened species: the impact of pelagic longlines on loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles

 Ecology Letters 7: 221–231


Lutcavage, M. E. and P. L. Lutz. 1997. Diving physiology in P. L. Lutz and J. A. Musick (eds.). The biology of sea turtles. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.


Pritchard, P.C.H. 1982. Nesting of the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) in Pacific Mexico, with a new estimate of the world population status. Copeia 741-747.


Shoop, C.R. and R. D. Kenney. 1992. Seasonal distribution and abundances of loggerhead and leatherback sea turtles in waters of the northeastern United States. Herpetological Monographs 6:43-67.

Spotila, J. R., A.E. Dunham, A. J. Leslie, A.C. Steyermark, P. T. Plotkin and F.V. Paladino. 1996. Worldwide population decline of Dermochelys coriacea: are leatherbacks turtles going extinct? Chelonian Conservation and Biology 2:209-222.


Spotila, J. R., R.D. Reina, A.C. Steyermark, P. T. Paladina and F.V. Paladino. 2000. Pacific leatherbacks turtles face extinction. Nature 45.


Work, T.M. and G. H. Balazs. 2002. Necropsy findings in sea turtles taken as bycatch in the North Pacific longline fishery. Fishery Bulletin 100: 876-880.


Zug, G. R. and J. F. Parham 1996. Age and growth in leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea): a skeletochronological analysis. Chelonia Conservation and Biology 2: 244-249.


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