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marine turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, found in tropical, subtropical, and temperate waters around the world. The largest of all turtles, it may reach a length of 7 1-2 ft (230 cm) and weigh 1200 lb (540 kg). Its shell, unlike that of most turtles, has no horny layer; the bone layer is covered with tough, leathery, black skin. Seven bony ridges running the length of the shell give this turtle its distinctive appearance. Highly pelagic turtles, leatherbacks have occasionally been seen as far N as Norway and as far S as New Zealand. They sometimes enter shallow coastal waters, but come ashore only to lay eggs. They are omnivorous feeders. Like other sea turtlessea turtle,
name for several species of large marine turtles found in tropical and subtropical oceans. These turtles are modified for life in the ocean by having flipperlike forelimbs without toes and lightweight shells. Their heads are too large to be withdrawn into the shell.
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, the leatherback is declining in numbers as a result of hunting and egg harvesting. It is classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Chelonia, family Dermochelidae.



(Dermochelys coriácea), a reptile of the order Chelonioidea (sea turtles). It is the largest of all modern turtles, measuring up to 2 m long and weighing up to 600 kg. The extremities are in the form of flippers. The carapace consists of several hundred tiny bony plates not connected to the spine and ribs.

The leatherback is found in all tropical seas, although it sometimes swims into waters of the temperate and even northern latitudes. It has been caught twice in the waters of the USSR, near the southern shores of Primor’e Krai and in the Bering Sea. The leatherback feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, fish, and algae.

It comes ashore only during the mating season. The female lays 95–150 spherical eggs (about 5 cm in diameter) in the sand. The meat of the leatherback is edible, although there have been cases of poisoning. The numbers of leatherbacks are rapidly diminishing.