Leatherback Turtle, a thousand-pound
monster that is critically endangered in the
Leatherback populations in the Pacific have fallen a catastrophic 95 percent or so since the early 1980s. Incredibly, Leatherback Turtles that breed in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands come all the way to the U. S. West Coast to feed on their equally incredible preferred prey: stinging jellyfish.
the largest of all sea turtles — were once a star attraction at Rantau Abang beach in Malaysia’s northern state of Terengganu but overfishing, poaching and pollution caused the population to plummet.
The Puteri Rantau Abang, which was hatched in the area in 1978 and marked on its shell and left flipper, returned at a weight of 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds), measuring 1.5 metres (five feet) in length and 1.16 metres wide.
It was released back into the sea on Thursday, carrying a satellite transmitter which will help conservationists track turtle migration patterns.
“We expect Puteri Rantau Abang to head for Vietnam and Japan before heading to the Pacific,” Ahamad said, adding that the turtle was also expected to travel to Indonesian waters and as far as New Zealand before returning to Malaysia.
Leatherback turtles have been around for the past 75 million years, surviving cycles of near extinction. Terengganu was the only place in Malaysia where leatherbacks nested.
In the 1950s, up to 10,000 female turtles struggled up the beach to lay their eggs each year, but by 1984 the number had fallen to 800 and in 2006 only five nests were found from two turtles, without any hatchlings emerging.
Apart from the leatherbacks, green turtles have also made a return to Malaysian beaches in recent weeks, but experts warned that the species is still headed for oblivion if habitat loss is not stopped.