How to identify

1.

Body is composed by a single large and elongated carapace that is flexible and has seven distinct keels placed along their length. Has a dark grey color or even black, with white dots. Fins do not have nails.

Dermochelys coriacea

or

Body is composed by a bony hard shell, without keels but with big plaques. Fins with one or two nails.

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2.

Carapace as four pairs of lateral plaques.

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or

Carapace with five or more pairs of lateral plaques.

Go to 5

3.

Narrow head, two pairs of frontal scales and a hawk’s beak. Carapace is brown-yellowish colored and has four lateral plaques fitting as a roof tile. Anterior and posterior fins with two nails.

Eretmochelys imbricata

or

Small head with a single pair of scales pre-orbitals. Has a rounded or oval carapace and the plaques do not overlap.

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4.

Has serrated jaw. Oval-shaped carapace. The color varies between light-green to very dark-green and from lustreless to very bright or can have shades of yellow, brown and green with radiant stripes. The plastron can be white or yellow in the Atlantic populations, and the Pacific populations show darker color tones

 

or

Round flattened carapace with plaques that do not overlap, covered by a thin layer of wax; color green-greyish with yellowish margins.

Natator depressus

5.

Carapace has five pairs of lateral plaques.

Go to 6

or

Carapace with six or more lateral plaques, dark green-greyish colored. Fins with one or two visible nails. Can have an extra nail in the anterior fins.

Lepidochelys olivacea

6.

Big head and strong jaws. Oval shaped carapace. Carapace is brown and the plastron is yellowish. Short front and thick fins with two nails. Rear fins with two or three nails.

Caretta caretta

or

Round carapace, dark green-greyish colored. Anterior fins with one nail and posterior with one or two nails.

Lepidochelys kempii