While discussing the Reptiles of Papua New Guinea, Rom and Zai Whitaker (1984) have done very little to talk about sea turtles eventhough their fresh water cousins are widely represented. In my discussions of the Reptiles of Papua New Guinea, I will go out of my way to provide some information on the sea turtles of Papua New Guinea. All information provided for sea turtles are readilly available on the net, I will only attempt to capture the relevant information and provide links for further readings.
Rom and Zai Whitaker (1984) have done very little to talk about sea turtles
Flatback sea turtles (Natator depressus) get their name from their flat carapace or shell, which is unlike the curved shell of other turtle species. The carapace on flatbacks are greyish-green in color with the outer margins distinctly upturned. Other distinguishable features include a single pair of prefrontal scales at teh front of the head and four pairs of coastal scutes on the carapace.
Flatbacks have the smallest distribution of all sea turtle species and only breeds and nests in Australia although their distribution range can span tot eh southern part of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Flatbacks are also small in size, reaching up to 1 m in length and weighing up to 90 kg.
Flatbacks are omnivores, feeding on a variety of prey including sea cucumbers, jellies, soft corals, shrimps, crabs, molluscs, fish and seaweed.
Current status can not be classified internationally because of their restricted range, however, in Australia, flatback turtles are listed as Vulnerable under the Australian Commonwealth’s Endangered Species Protection Act. The main threats to this species include;
- habitat loss and degradation
- wildlife trade
- collection of eggs and meat for consumption
- incidential catch (bycatch)
- climate change and
Flatbacks are also threatened by predation by other animals including foxes, feral dogs and pigs. Despite their limited range and non-migratory behaviour, this species remains the least studied sea turtle species.
Links and resources