The leatherback sea turtle is the largest of all the turtles on earth, both aquatic and terrestrial. It is easily identifiable by its massive, inky-blue leathery shell, different from all of the other sea turtle’s shells which are hard and bony. The leatherback is a massive, ancient relic; the only remaining species of the Dermochelys family of turtles. It can grow up to seven feet long and weigh over 2,000 pounds!
Chances of seeing one of them would be high since it is the most widely distributed of all reptile species; however, due to severe population decline within the last century, they are becoming harder to find, especially in critically endangered subpopulations like the Pacific and Southwest Atlantic. Your best chance to see one up close and personal is to view them during nesting season when these massive animals haul themselves up the beach to dig a nest and lay their eggs. Witnessing this age-old behavior is truly special but be sure to keep a good distance and turn off all lights so as not to disturb them. If you are lucky enough to go diving with leatherback sea turtles bring your camera as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Check out the map below for the best locations around the world to encounter them.