Common Name: Australian flatback - named for its flat shell.
Scientific Name: Natator depressus
Description: Flatback sea turtles have a single pair of prefrontal scales in front of its eyes. With large, non-overlapping scales present and only 4 lateral scutes, its bony carapace has no ridges. The Flatback sea turtle has an oval or round carapace and an extremely flat body. Each flipper has 1 claw. Its folded carapace edge is covered by thin, non-overlapping waxy scutes. Carapace is olive-grey, tones on margins are pale brown/yellow and the flippers are a creamy white. The scales of the hatchlings form a unique dark-grey reticulate pattern with an olive colored center.
Size: The carapace length of an adult flatback is up to 99 cm, which is 3.25 feet.
Weight: Adult flatback sea turtles have a weight of 90 kg, which is 198 pounds.
Diet: Flatback sea turtles eat sea cucumbers, jellyfish, mollusks, prawns, bryozoans, other invertebrates, and seaweed.
Habitat: Turbid inshore waters, bays, coastal coral reef and grassy shallows are all of the flatback's preferred habitats.
Nesting: Every year, the Flatback sea turtle nests 4 times each season and lays 50 eggs on average, which are quite large compared with other sea turtle species. The period for the eggs to incubate is about 55 days. The hatchlings seem larger than most species.
Range: The flatback sea turtle are so limited that they can only be found in the waters around Australia and Papua New Guinea of Pacific.
Status: U.S. - Within the foreseeable future, they are in danger of extinction and listed as Endangered under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act.
International - In the immediate future, they are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild and listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Threats to Survival: Capture, harvesting of eggs, destruction of nesting beaches, ocean pollution, oil spills and entanglement in fishing and shrimp nets are main threats to flatback sea turtles.
Population Estimate: 20,285 nesting females.