Carmel Magazine

Spring/Summer 2020

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Page 123 of 155

Also unique is their diet. Shillinger calls them "jellyvores" because, "Leatherbacks consume prodigious quantities of jellyfish." Prodigious indeed. Adults must ingest 20 and 40 percent of their body weight every day to meet their daily energy needs. That's a lot of jellies, and there are plenty of those in the chilly waters of the Central Coast. What aren't there plenty of? Leatherback turtles. According to a brochure published by Upwell, leatherbacks as a species are in extreme danger. There are two populations of these benign behemoths, known as the West Pacific and East Pacific. The former has declined by more than 78 percent and the latter by 90 percent. "The Eastern group is the most endangered," Shillinger says, "they've declined 99 percent in the last three generations—30 years—with com- Superbly adapted for their environment, leatherbacks are known to migrate through huge swaths of ocean and dive to extreme depths to feed. They always return to the exact place of their birth to spawn the next generation. 122 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 2 0 Photo: Michael Patrick O'Neill / Alamy Stock Photo Photo: Michael Patrick O'Neill / Alamy Stock Photo

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