Enormous Turtle Found on Spanish Beach Possibly 7 Feet Long

Colin Fredericson
By Colin Fredericson
September 29, 2017World News
Enormous Turtle Found on Spanish Beach Possibly 7 Feet Long
A leatherback turtle in this undated handout photo from the Marine Conservation Society. (Peter Richardson via Getty Images)

An unbelievably enormous leatherback sea turtle was discovered on a beach in Spain.

The leatherback was found dead on the shore of Calella, about 36 miles from Barcelona. The large animal was placed in the bed of an industrial truck so it could be driven off the beach, the Daily Mail reported.

The report did not mention the turtle’s size, but leatherback sea turtles are known to grow as long as seven feet. They can weigh 2,000 pounds or more. That’s why a digger truck was needed to take the animal off the beach. The largest ever found was 8.5 feet and 2,020 pounds, but most leatherbacks hover between 4.6 feet and 5.3 feet, and weigh from 600 to 1,500 pounds, according to World Wildlife Fund.

That’s why the leatherback sea turtle is the largest turtle in existence. Leatherback sea turtles are the modern representatives of an extremely old family of turtles. That turtle family was around over 100 million years ago, according to National Geographic.

Leatherback sea turtle shells are noticeably unique among turtles. It isn’t the hard, bony shell common among turtles but is somewhat flexible and soft, with a leathery consistency. The shape of the shell is also sleek and hydrodynamic, with protruding ridges running from front to back.

Leatherbacks also have the unique ability to dive down to depths of 4,200 feet, farther than any other turtle. They can stay down there for 85 minutes. They are also found in more areas than any reptile species due to their wide-ranging patterns of migration. They were at one time easily found in every ocean except the Arctic and Antarctic.

Their numbers in the Atlantic, where this turtle was found, are steady, but in the Pacific their population is steadily declining. Contributing factors include people stealing leatherback eggs from sandy, shoreline nests, leatherbacks that get caught in fishing nets or hit by boats, or leatherbacks that mistakenly eat plastic pollution thrown in the sea that looks like their favorite food, jellyfish.

Leatherbacks are listed as vulnerable, meaning they are at high risk of extinction in the wild. They travel the seas often following bountiful supplies of jellyfish, but face the same challenges that other sea turtles are struggling with in their quest for survival.

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