Doug Perrine / seapics.com
Doug Perrine / seapics.com

Leatherbacks Gathering off California Coast

Pacific leatherbacks are gathering off the coast to feed on California’s super abundance of jellyfish.  Leatherbacks have been sighted swimming in the shipping lanes and the ‘precautionary area’ off San Francisco Bay, off the San Mateo coastline, and farther south in Monterey Bay.  N.O.A.A. researchers currently at sea studying these enigmatic animals have called this season a “boomer summer/fall for leatherbacks off the central California coast.”  The leatherbacks currently feeding off the California coast have migrated across the Pacific Ocean from their nesting beaches in Indonesia.

Leatherbacks are one of the world’s largest reptiles averaging ~ 800 lbs, but are essentially “gelatinavores,” who eat almost exclusively jellyfish (and other gelatinous organisms that drift in the ocean)! Leatherbacks are most likely to be spotted in areas with large numbers of jellyfish.  Scientists believe that large sea nettles are the leatherback’s favorite jellyfish.

If you’re on the water off the California coast and spot a leatherback, please send us an email! If you have photos, we’ll post it!

Get the latest word from N.O.A.A. about leatherbacks off the California coast