Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle – Lepidochelys kempii

Description

The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle is one of the smallest out there in the world. They weigh only about 100 pounds and they are from 2 ½ feet long to 3 feet long. They are gray and green in color with some yellow underneath their shell. They feature five pairs of costal as well as flippers that have claws on them. They are often mistaken for the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. The main difference is the coloring underneath of them.

They have a much darker shade of head, which is interesting as it does tend to stick out when you compare it to the lighter coloring of the rest of their bodies. They also feature spots on their heads.

Distribution

The Gulf of Mexico is the most common region for them to reside. They are also plentiful around Florida. There are also many found along the Mediterranean Sea. They tend to favor regions where there is plenty of algae.

Diet /Feeding

The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle primarily will be noticed in the water where it is muddy or sandy. This is where they find most of the prey that the usually feed upon. Their diet includes jellyfish, mollusks, and a variety of small fish. They are able to hunt for food in areas of very cold water. This is due to a mechanism that allows them to reduce their metabolism. This also allows them to remain under water for hours at a time.

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle information.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle – Lepidochelys kempii.

Reproduction

Reproduction takes place in the water. The age of maturity is from 10 to 20 years for these sea turtles. They can live to be up to 50 years of age and they will annually have a deposit of eggs each 2 years from the time they reach maturity.

You may find it interesting to learn that the males never come out of the water after they first find it as a new hatchling. The females only come to shore when it is time for them to deposit their eggs. You may also find it interesting that the females will only lay their eggs during the sunlight hours. They nest in the same beach area year after year. They may travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to reach that destination.

The females engage in a synchronized deposit of their eggs on land into a nesting area that they dig. This is very unique behavior and one that the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles also take part in. One of these huge nesting grounds is in Rancho Nuevo, Mexico. Many tourists come to this location to observe the behaviors of the female Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles.

Nesting takes place from May through July depending on the location. Each female will lay approximately 100 eggs that will hatch about 60 days later.

Conservation

Based on some slow increases in their numbers, it is believed that conservation efforts for the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle have been helpful. However, they continue to lose their natural habitat as more of the beaches are used for people and other developments. They also face problems in the water due to pollution and predators. At this point in time though they are considered to be the most endangered type of sea turtle in the world.

Human intervention

It is believed approximately 60% of all the eggs nested by the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are taken by local villagers as a source of food.