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Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)

The leatherback is the champion of sea turtles: It grows the largest, dives the deepest, and travels the farthest of all sea turtles. The leatherback was listed in the United States under the Endangered Species Act as endangered in 1970. Populations have declined in Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad, Tobago, and Papua New Guniea. Leatherbacks are seriously declining at all major nesting beaches throughout the Pacific. The decline is dramatic along the Pacific coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica and coastal Malaysia. Nesting along the Pacific coast of Mexico declined at an annual rate of 22% over the last 12 years, and the Malaysian population represents 1% of the levels recorded in the 1950s. In contrast, there has been a recent increase in leatherback nesting on the central and south eastern coast of Florida.