leatherback

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Within the space of a single year, Legendary Pictures have delivered two startlingly brilliant kaiju films, under the direction of two of the most interesting and dedicated directors possible. Pacific Rim is a glorious, no-holds-barred tribute to the glory days of the kaiju eiga, and Godzilla is an epic rebirth to one of cinema’s greatest icons, which exceeded practically everyone’s expectations. Even if these turn out to be the studio’s only forays into the kaiju genre, I’m sure I speak on behalf of the fandom in thanking Legendary for delivering these two extraordinary films, which I personally know mean so much to so many people. Thank you, legendary, and here’s hoping you grow into the new house of kaiju. 

GIF credits: jaqens-hghar / thedissolve.

The Harlech Turtle, a 916 kg Leatherback Seaturtle that washed up in Wales in 1988. Some sources (such as Bright) describe this as the “largest known leatherback”, but that’s because they didn’t pay very close attention to units. This turtle had a very impressive total dorsal curved length of 2.91 meters, but the curved carapace length was only 1.59 meters; straight carapace length is a much better measure, and Leatherbacks apparently average 1.32–1.78 m SCL, with a maximum of at least 1.98 or possibly even 2.43 meters, according to Ernst and Lovich. With the square-cube law in mind, the largest leatherbacks may weigh multiple tonnes.

Bright, M. (1989) There are Giants in the Sea.

Sea turtles ultimately grow from the size of a dinner plate to that of a dinner table. In the case of the leatherback sea turtle, this can take up to a decade. Happy World Turtle Day!

From the TED-Ed Lesson The survival of the sea turtle - Scott Gass

Animation by Cinematic Sweden

Peek inside a Leatherback Turtle's (Dermochelys coriacea) mouth: How to eat jelly fish when your mouth is an exquisitely evolved jellyfish deathbed. 

We know turtles like to eat jellyfish, and the Leatherback likes them most of all. However, this is the biggest turtle, consuming a prey that extremely low nutritional value, therefore it has to nom on a lot of them. As it does so, it takes in saltwater as well. The jellies and the saltwater get stored in the esophagus. 

What happens next you ask? Is it to do with the horrific looking backwards facing spines that don’t look comfortable in anything’s mouth? 

But of course! Because that is the beauty of evolution, the refined logic of adaptation. 

The muscles of the esophagus squeeze the seawater out of the mouth and the spines, which get progressively larger down the esophagus, hold the jellyfish in place. Once all the water is gone, the jellies are passed into the stomach. 

This is one of the many *awesome* characteristics of the leatherback turtle - trawling for jellyfish on this earth for over 90 million year. 

Trawling for fish/shrimp (by humans, not leatherbacks), is one of the reasons Leatherbacks are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. 

Source: Evolution FB

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Here’s some Kaiju Atsume! Posted these guys on my Patreon last week, so gonna slide them over here now. I had done Leatherback and Mutavore a month or so ago and just kind of forgot. I wanted to do a couple more to make them a bit more worth posting.

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NOAA Podcasts:  Saving the Leatherback Sea Turtle

The Leatherback is a most unusual species of sea turtle. In the Pacific, it’s also among the most endangered.

In celebration of Sea Turtle Day, today’s podcast is about leatherback sea turtles. Leatherbacks are the largest species of sea turtle out there, and they migrate farther than any other. And in the Pacific Ocean, they’re also among the most endangered.

To talk with us about leatherback sea turtles, we have Scott Benson on the line. Benson is a research biologist at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and he’s an expert on leatherback sea turtles.

In this interview, Benson discusses some of the threats that leatherbacks face and what scientists, conservationists, and fishermen are doing to address those threats. He also explains what measures you as a consumer can take to help protect leatherback sea turtles.

(LISTEN HERE)

photographs by Karen Benson and Karin A. Forney/NOAA.