The first of our ‘magnificent seven’ sea turtles, the Flatback is named after its flat shell, or carapace, which is quite different to the curved shells of the other six species.
The carapace is pale grey-green colour with the outer margins distinctly upturned. An adult flatback weighs 200 pounds and is approximately 3 feet in length. They can live for up to 100 years!
Flatbacks have the smallest distribution of all the species and breed and nest only in northern Australia. They are the only sea turtle species not represented in the western hemisphere.
Scientists considered flatbacks to be a subspecies of green turtle until they received separate recognition in 1988.
Flatbacks are preyed upon by Saltwater crocodiles, the largest reptile on earth. Adult females have been observed being attacked by crocs while attempting to nest.
Despite its small range and non-migratory behavior, until now this has been the least studied of the sea turtle species, perhaps due in part to the remoteness of much of their habitat.
Photo credits: Catherine Bell, Jarrad Sherborne