Who is Mr. Leatherback?
In his own words: “An adventurous world traveler. The James Bond of the animal kingdom. The largest reptile on Earth.”
Mr. Leatherback is a life-sized leatherback sea turtle representing (Dermochelys coriacea), a species that is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. He is a huggable and photogenic ambassador for turtles and marine conservation who delights children and adults around the world.
LEARN MORE: Discover CI's Sea Turtle Flag Ship Program.
Along with Olympic gold-medal swimmer Rowdy Gaines, he is also the official announcer of this year’s Great Turtle Race, set to kick off April 16th.
What does he do?
Mr. Leatherback’s goal is to “save my species by befriending humans,” and in his ambassadorial role has visited the pyramids of Giza in Egypt; the Space Needle in Seattle; the Coliseum in Rome; the United States Capitol; the Great Wall of China; India’s Taj Mahal; and New York City’s Statue of Liberty.
He also raises money for turtle conservation and educates children and adults around the world. Mr. Leatherback is active online as well, fielding questions, offering advice on which seafood to eat or avoid, suggesting ways to help save sea turtles, explaining where sea turtles are found and more.
- Since he began traveling in 2006, Mr. Leatherback has been to 43 countries and territories, and has visited dozens of major landmarks, wonders of the world, and spectacles of nature.
- He has 5,200 friends on MySpace, 500 on Facebook, as well as his own YouTube channel.
- He is working on a music video with Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
IN DEPTH: Communities and Sea Turtles
Clearly, Mr. Leatherback keeps it fun. Rather than focusing on the stern tone of so many news stories, Mr. Leatherback’s message is always entertaining and optimistic.
Want to help protect turtles?
Mr. Leatherback has a few tips to share.
First, choose your seafood wisely. The ways in which many fish are caught also incidentally catches and kills sea turtles, sharks, seabirds, seals and other globally threatened marine animals. Your buying power directly influences the demand for different types of seafood.
Also, stop using plastic bags. Turtles have weak eyesight, and when the bags hit the ocean, they look just like jellyfish. When the turtles eat the bags, many choke and drown. In fact, a recent review of the stomach contents from dead leatherback turtles dating back to 1968 found that 37 percent of them had eaten plastic.
Mr. Leatherback believes that individuals have the power to change the course for sea turtles by making simple changes in their lives. He, alongside his friends at CI and in the Sea Turtle Flagship Program, is helping lead the way.
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