The leatherback sea turtle is the world’s largest turtle. Although leatherback turtles have a beautiful, calm character, the inside of their mouths can be frightening. It is absolutely terrifying to see a turtle’s teeth, which resemble stalactites. Teeth extend to the stomach of the animal. Learn more about leatherback turtles by reading on.
Leatherback turtles are the most unique marine turtle species. A leatherback turtle has the highest migratory distribution of any reptile worldwide, since it is the only surviving member of the Dermochelyidae family. Their weight can reach 2,000 pounds and their height can reach six feet.
Leatherback sea turtles have not changed in millions of years; they look the same as they did when dinosaurs roamed the earth!
Leatherback sea turtles have one of the scariest mouths in the world. Its mouth, esophagus, and stomach are lined with hundreds of sharp, stalactite-like teeth, called papillae. Leatherback turtles eat only jellyfish and do not eat flesh. As a result of its sharp, backward-facing papillae, turtles are able to consume large quantities of slick jellyfish by preventing them from floating out of their mouths. The jellyfish are also processed by an extended esophagus that coils around the abdomen and back. The leatherback turtle is capable of handling any type of jellyfish, including the enormous lion’s mane and smaller swarms.
Regardless of the fact that jellyfish might not be one of the healthiest meals, nothing is wasted. Leatherback turtles consume approximately 73% of their body weight in calories during the summer, which is approximately 16,000 calories per day.
Many humans have been injected with poison by jellyfish when they sting. As reptiles, leatherback sea turtles are protected from poison by their scales. Leatherback turtles can pierce and break down their prey after ingesting it using their papillae. A leatherback turtle’s scissor-like mouth would probably be damaged if it ate anything other than these traits. It is because of this that leatherbacks must actively hunt huge numbers of jellyfish.
On average, leatherback turtles can swallow dozens of jellyfish at once and catch one in 22 seconds. Considering leatherbacks have a 100% success rate when hunting jellyfish, it is not surprising that they can consume 16,000 calories from jellyfish.