Lepidochelys kempii

Introduction to Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle

One of the smallest species of sea turtles is the Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle. They can be about 3 feet long and about 100 pounds. This is a well known type of sea turtle that many people have learned about.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Description

The color of this species of sea turtle is gray when they are young and green as they mature. Their head is darker in color than the rest of the body and they have spots on the head. They have some cream color that is featured under their belly. Kemp’s ridley turtle have a round carapace and is a way to distinguish them from the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle. They have 5 pairs of costals and they have one or two claws on their flippers.

Class Reptilia
Order Testudines
Family Cheloniidae
Genus Lepidochelys
Conservation status Critically Endangered

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Distribution

The Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle is most often found around the Gulf of Mexico and in the area of Florida. There have been some numbers of them though identified as residing in the Mediterranean Sea. They are often going to be found in areas of water that offer them large amounts of algae. They blend in well though as they tend to live in areas of the water that are sandy or muddy.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Behavior

These sea turtles often use the algae around their environment to help hem float around in the water without using large amounts of energy to do so. They have the ability to remain under water for many hours at a time. The various behaviors of this sea turtle though continue to be a mystery to the experts.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Feeding

They find the majority of their food at the bottom of the water. Their diet includes various types of small fish, mollusks, and jellyfish. When those sources of food are scarce they will also consume seaweed and algae. They do live in warmer bodies of water but they will move into the cooler areas of water to find food if they need to. This can occur through their ability to slow down their metabolism.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Reproduction

The Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle isn’t ready to mate until they are around 12 to 15 years of age. They are one of the few species of sea turtles where the females can deposit eggs every year instead of every couple of years. They mate in the water and there isn’t much known about the mating rituals that occur.

The female will go to the nesting ground and dig in the sand to deposit her eggs. She will only do this during the daylight hours. The females will also go back to the same beach location annually, even if they have to travel a tremendous distance to do so.

They are the only species of sea turtle where the females are synchronized in their deposit of the eggs. This can occur from May through July with about 100 eggs being deposited from each female. Each female can nest up to three times per season.

In some locations though, more than half of the eggs are taken to be used as food by villagers. Temperatures over 85 degrees Fahrenheit often indicate females will be born and when it is below that they will mainly be male offspring.

Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Conservation Status and Threats

The conservation efforts for this sea turtle have mainly involved protecting the vast beach locations where the females are known to deposit their eggs. It is believed such efforts have helped to reduce their drop in numbers. However, the loss of their natural habitat continues to be a concern for them. Issues with predators as well as pollutants in the water continue to be focal points to help this endangered sea turtle to survive.


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