Olive Ridley Sea Turtle – Lepidochelys olivacea

Description

Featuring a gray and green coloring as well as a heart shaped shell, the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle is one many people are familiar with. The young ones are mainly gray in color and as they get older they will become completely green. They are very small compared to other sea turtles as full grown they rarely weigh more than 100 pounds. They are also less than three feet in length as adults. In fact, they are categorized as the smallest species of sea turtle.

They have from six to nine pairs of costals and two pairs of front scales. Each of their front flippers has a set of claws that they use for digging when they reach land. The males and the females look very similar in color and size. The way you can tell them apart is that the males have a tail that sticks out and the females don’t.

Distribution

The vast majority of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles can be found in the Pacific Ocean. More specifically, towards the beach areas of Mexico. They are known to be distributed in locations all over the world though. Many of them reside along the coastal regions of South America and West Africa. Other prime locations for seeing them include Southern California and Northern Chile.

They are often seen in other locations between such points. This is because they migrate hundreds of miles in search of food and to reach their breeding grounds each year.

Diet /Feeding

These sea turtles feed on shrimp, crab, lobster, and jellyfish. When these items are hard to find they will turn to consuming various types of algae that are available.

Reproduction

Maturity is approximately 15 years of age for the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. The females will reproduce at least once a year and most of them do so at least twice. They will lay up to 100 eggs at a time. It takes approximately 50 to 60 days for them to hatch. Then they will make their journey to the water.

The nesting habits of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle are very unique when compared to other types of sea turtles out there. Instead of each female creating their own nest, they work together to create a very large one for all of them to deposit their eggs in. However, there are still some of this species that nest on their own and don’t join the larger group effort.

Conservation

There aren’t many conservation efforts in place right now for the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. Approximately 800,000 of them are found in the world so one might assume that they don’t need our help. However, they are classified as an Vulnerable Species due to the fact that their natural habitat continues to be destroyed at an alarming rate.

The fact that the number of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles has dropped more than 50% in the last 45 years is something to be concerned about. If that trend continues then they may be extinct over the next 50 years. With the right conditions for the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, one can easily live to be at least 50 years old.

Human Interaction

In spite of conservation efforts to protect their natural habitat, they continue to be killed for their meat. They are also killed for their skin as it has many uses. The eggs of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle often get taken by people to consume as well. In many locations they end up in fishing nets that are meant to capture other types of aquatic life. Yet many of them suffer injuries or they die while in those nets.