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When a Massive Leatherback Turtle Attacked a Fishing Boat

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An unexpected interaction occurred in the silent, serene ocean where the gentle leatherback turtles roam. These creatures, symbols of grace and tranquility, are seldom seen in moments of confrontation. However, an encounter with a boat paints a different narrative, highlighting the innate instincts that surface when their peaceful existence is potentially disturbed.

Leatherback turtle
© AIMM Portugal YouTube

The Unanticipated Encounter

Amidst the calm waters, a boat and a leatherback turtle found themselves nearby. It’s uncertain whether the boat ventured too close or was a coincidence, but the turtle, surrounded by watchful remora sharks, responded assertively. This wasn’t an act of unprovoked aggression but a possible instinctive reaction to a perceived intrusion, a moment that underscores the delicate dance of coexistence that unfolds in the ocean’s depths.

YouTube video
Watch the incident © teamjawsa YouTube

Leatherback Turtles: A Closer Look

Leatherback turtles are the largest sea turtle species, often reaching lengths of 6 feet and weighing as much as half a ton. Despite their imposing size, they are gentle, peaceful creatures. Their extensive migrations across oceans are silent testimonies to their enduring, tranquil nature. Yet, like all creatures, they too have boundaries, a space they call their own, a sanctuary that, when threatened, they are instinctively compelled to defend.

Facts About Leatherback Turtles

  • Ancient Mariners: Leatherback turtles have roamed the earth for millions of years, their existence tracing back to the age of dinosaurs.
  • Diet: They primarily feed on jellyfish, playing a crucial role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems.
  • Migration: Leatherbacks undertake extensive migrations, traversing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
  • Threats: They face numerous threats, including egg harvesting, bycatch, and habitat degradation.

The Balance of Coexistence

The encounter is a poignant reminder of the intricate dance between humanity and nature. No matter how gentle, every creature has a space it calls home, a sanctuary that warrants respect. The leatherback’s momentary retaliation is a call to awareness, a reminder of the respect and distance essential to the harmonious coexistence of all life forms.

Conservation: A Shared Responsibility

Efforts to protect these majestic beings are more critical than ever. Organizations and agencies, including NOAA Fisheries, are collaborating globally to ensure the safety and conservation of leatherback turtles. The focus is not just on reducing threats but also on fostering an environment of respect and awareness, where the boundaries of every creature, no matter how large or small, are acknowledged and honored.


The leatherback turtle’s retaliation is not a narrative of aggression but a story of boundaries, respect, and coexistence. It underscores the delicate balance that defines our relationship with nature. As we venture into the ocean’s depths, let us do so with awareness, recognizing that in the silent, tranquil waters, there exists a world, a sanctuary, where every creature, including the peaceful leatherback turtle, has a space it calls home.

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Latest posts by Cayla de Souza, M.Sc. Ocean Sciences & Marine Biology (see all)

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