Hawksbill Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle
Leatherback Turtle
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

© Jarrad Sherborne

  • Named because its shell is very flat; other sea turtles have an arch to their shell
  • Population estimate is only around 10,000 – 20,000 nesting females
  • Smallest migratory range of any sea turtle: Breeds and nests only around Australia, but migrates to other areas.
  • Protected on CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species…)
  • Lays fewer eggs during a nesting event than any sea turtle species.


Flatback Sea Turtles are unique in their appearance because their shell is flat, rather than having an arch. They can weigh around 200 pounds and are over three feet in length as an adult. Their coloring is olive-gray and they have only one claw on their flipper.

Range and Nesting

Flatbacks are found in the tropical areas around Australia and prefer shore waters, bays and coastal coral reefs. They are found around the Indonesian Archipelago and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific; however, it is reported that they only nest and breed in Australia. They lay around 50 eggs, the fewest of any species.

Threats To Their Survival

Flatbacks are listed as Vulnerable under the Australian Commonwealth Endangered Species Act.
Like other species, flatbacks survival is threatened because of human harvesting of their meat and eggs and drowning in shrimp and gill nets. They are also vulnerable because ocean pollution, and coastal development. In an article in International Herald Tribune, dated March 2007, Wayne Arnold writes, “But now environmentalists say that Barrow’s flatbacks may be among the victims of a plan by the oil giant Chevron to use Barrow Island for a roughly $8.6 billion project meant to supply natural gas to Japan and other energy-hungry nations.”

We gratefully acknowledge the following resources:

Caribbean Conservation Corporation http://www.cccturtle.org

Jarrad Sherborne, photographer/conservationist who works at the Barrow Island Turtle Reserve gave permission to use the Flatback turtle photo from the www.seaturtle.org image library

International Herald Tribune

Sea Turtle Restoration Projecthttp://www.seaturtles.org

US Fish and Wildlife http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2007/seaturtles2.pdf