Leatherback Sea Turtle

Dermochelys coriacea


The Leatherback Sea Turtle is one of the world’s largest reptiles, and the largest turtle of any species. It may be seen close to coastal Mississippi foraging or nesting. This species is noted as having overlapping scutes and a brown/black “tortoiseshell” pattern. Sea turtles are protected and should not be bothered, handled, or captured.

Adult Leatherback Sea Turtle, Glynn Co. (GA), © Grover Brown

Identifying Traits

  • Large, black, blueish, or gray in color
  • Leathery shell


Oceanic, may be encountered eating jellyfish during blooms, occasionally nests on natural beaches and barrier islands


Pelagic, nests on beaches, forages on gelatinous prey and algae


Jellyfish, algae

Hatchling Leatherback, Glynn Co. (GA), © Grover Brown