The Info List - Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

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Kemp's ridley sea turtle[2] ( Lepidochelys
kempii), or the Atlantic ridley sea turtle, is the rarest species of sea turtle and is critically endangered. It is one of two living species in the genus Lepidochelys
(the other one being L. olivacea, the olive ridley sea turtle).


1 Description 2 Distribution 3 Feeding and life history

3.1 Feeding 3.2 Life history

4 Etymology and taxonomic history 5 Conservation 6 Oil spills 7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

Description[edit] (Kemp's ridley is a small sea turtle species), reaching maturity at 58–70 cm (23–28 in) carapace length and weighing only 36–45 kg (79–99 lb).[3] Typical of sea turtles, it has a dorsoventrally depressed body with specially adapted flipper-like front limbs and a beak. Kemp's ridley turtle is the smallest of the sea turtles, with adults reaching a maximum of 75 cm (30 in) in carapace length and weighing a maximum of 50 kg (110 lb).[3] The adult has an oval carapace that is almost as wide as it is long and is usually olive-gray in color. The carapace has five pairs of costal scutes. In each bridge adjoining the plastron to the carapace are four inframarginal scutes, each of which is perforated by a pore. The head has two pairs of prefrontal scales. Hatchlings are black on both sides. Kemp's ridley has a triangular-shaped head with a somewhat hooked beak with large crushing surfaces. This turtle is a shallow-water benthic feeder with a diet consisting primarily of crabs. Distribution[edit]

kempii distribution

Kemp's ridley sea turtles generally prefer warm waters, but inhabit waters as far north as New Jersey. They migrate to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, where they often inhabit the waters off Louisiana.[4][citation needed] Their range includes the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
and the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all females return each year to a single beach—Rancho Nuevo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas—to lay eggs. The females arrive in large groups of hundreds or thousands in nesting aggregations called arribadas, which is a Spanish word for "arrival."[5][6] Some travel as far away as the coast of Ireland, and two individuals managed to journey as far as the coasts of Devonshire.[citation needed] Feeding and life history[edit] Feeding[edit] Kemp's ridley turtle feeds on mollusks, crustaceans, jellyfish, fish, algae or seaweed, and sea urchins. Juvenile Kemp's ridleys primarily feed on crabs.[7] Life history[edit] Juvenile turtles tend to live in floating sargassum seaweed beds for their first years.[8] Then they range between northwest Atlantic waters and the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
while growing into maturity. These turtles change color as they mature. As hatchlings, they are almost entirely a dark purple , but mature adults have a yellow-green or white plastron and a grey-green carapace. They reach sexual maturity at the age of 10-12.[9] The nesting season for these turtles is April to August. They nest mostly on a 16-mile beach in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas
and on Padre Island
Padre Island
in the US state of Texas, and elsewhere on the Gulf coast. They mate offshore. Gravid females land in groups on beaches in what is commonly called an arribada[8] or mass nesting. They prefer areas with dunes or, secondarily, swamps. The estimated number of nesting females in 1947 was 89,000, but shrank to an estimated 7,702 by 1985.[10] Females nest two or three times during a season, keeping 10 to 20 days between nestings. Incubation takes 45 to 70 days. On average, around 110 eggs are in a clutch. The hatchlings' sex is decided by the temperature in the area during incubation. If the temperature is below 29.5 °C, the offspring will be mainly male.



Juvenile turtle

Adult turtle nesting

Deceased adult

Etymology and taxonomic history[edit] These turtles are called Kemp's ridley because Richard Moore Kemp (1825-1908) of Key West
Key West
was the first to send a specimen to Samuel Garman at Harvard.[11] However, the etymology of the name "ridley" itself is unknown. Prior to the term being popularly used (for both species in the genus), L. kempii at least was known as the "turtle".[12] At least one source also refers to Kemp's ridley as a "heartbreak turtle". In her book The Great Ridley Rescue, Pamela Philips claimed the name was coined by fishermen who witnessed the turtles dying after being "turned turtle" (on their backs). The fishermen said the turtles "died of a broken heart".[13][14] Conservation[edit]

Play media

Biologists collecting Kemp's ridley sea turtle's eggs to transport them to the Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
for hatching

Hunting first depleted their numbers, but today, major threats include habitat loss, pollution, and entanglement in shrimping nets. Mexico
first protected Kemp's ridleys in the 1960s. In the United States, Kemp's ridley turtle was first listed under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1970[15] on December 2, 1970, and subsequently under the Endangered Species Act
Endangered Species Act
(ESA) of 1973. A binational recovery plan was developed in 1984, and revised in 1992. A draft public review draft of the second revision was published by NOAA Fisheries in March 2010.[16] This revision includes an updated threat assessment.[17] One mechanism used to protect turtles from fishing nets is the turtle excluder device (TED). Because the biggest danger to the population of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles is shrimp trawls, the device is attached to the shrimp trawl. It is a grid of bars with an opening at the top or bottom, fitted into the neck of the shrimp trawl. It allows small animals to slip through the bars and be caught while larger animals, such as sea turtles, strike the bars and are ejected, thus avoiding possible drowning.

Kemp's ridley nests found on the Texas
coast 1985-2013

In September 2007, Corpus Christi, Texas, wildlife officials found a record of 128 Kemp's ridley sea turtle
Kemp's ridley sea turtle
nests on Texas
beaches, including 81 on North Padre Island
Padre Island
( Padre Island
Padre Island
National Seashore) and four on Mustang Island. The figure was exceeded in each of the following 7 years (see graph to 2013, provisional figures for 2014 as at July, 118.[18]). Wildlife
officials released 10,594 Kemp's ridley hatchlings along the Texas
coast that year. The turtles are popular in Mexico, as boot material and food.[19] Oil spills[edit] Some Kemp's ridleys were airlifted from Mexico
after the 1979 blowout of the Ixtoc 1
Ixtoc 1
rig, which spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Since April 30, 2010, 10 days after the accident on the Deepwater Horizon, 156 sea turtle deaths were recorded; most were Kemp’s ridleys.[citation needed] Louisiana
Department of Wildlife
and Fisheries biologists and enforcement agents rescued Kemp's ridleys in Grand Isle.[20][citation needed] "Most" of the 456 oiled turtles that were rescued, cleaned, and released by US Fish
and Wildlife
Service were Kemp's ridleys.[21] Of the endangered marine species frequenting Gulf waters, only Kemp’s ridley relies on the region as its sole breeding ground.[22] As part of the effort to save the species from some of the effects of the Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon
oil spill, scientists took nests and incubated them elsewhere; 67 eggs were collected from a nest along the Florida Panhandle on June 26, 2010, and brought to a temperature-controlled warehouse at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where 56 hatched,[citation needed] and 22 were released on 11 July 2010.[23] The overall plan was to collect eggs from about 700 sea turtle nests, incubate them, and release the young on beaches across Alabama and Florida
over a period of months.[23][24] Eventually, 278 nests were collected, including only a few Kemp's ridley nests.[25] See also[edit]

Loggerhead sea turtle Green sea turtle Leatherback sea turtle Hawksbill sea turtle Flatback sea turtle


^ Fritz, Uwe; Havaš, Peter. (2007). Checklist of Chelonians of the World. Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 149-368. ( Lepidochelys
kempii, pp. 168-169). ^ Rhodin J.G.A.; Dijk V.P.P.; Iverson B.J.; Shaffer B.H. (2010). Rhodin J.G.A.; Pritchard H.C.P.; Dijk V.P.P.; Saumure A.R.; Buhlmann A.K.; Iverson B.J.; Mittermeier A.R., eds. "Turtles of the World: Annotated Checklist of Taxonomy and Synonymy" (PDF). Chelonian Research Monographs. Chelonian Research Foundation and the Turtle Taxonomy Working Group of IUCN
Species Survival Commission: 85–164. doi:10.3854/crm.5.000.checklist.v3.2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2015-01-07.  ^ a b Conant R. (1975). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Second Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. xviii + 429 pp. + Plates 1-48. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). ( Lepidochelys
kempi, pp. 75-76 + Plate 11). ^ Coleman, Andrew (2016). "POPULATION ECOLOGY AND REHABILITATION OF INCIDENTALLY CAPTURED KEMP'S RIDLEY SEA TURTLES (LEPIDOCHELYS KEMPII) IN THE MISSISSIPPI SOUND, USA" (PDF). Herpetological Conservation and Biology. 11: 253–264.  ^ Pritchard, Peter (1969). "Studies of the systematics and reproduction of the genus Lepidochelys". Ph.D. Dissertation – via University of Florida, Gainesville.  ^ Plotkin, Pamela (2007). Biology and Conservation of Ridley Sea Turtles. Baltimore, MD: JHU Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780801886119 – via Google Books.  ^ Burke, VJ; Morreale, SJ; Standora, EA (1994). "Diet of the Kemp's ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys
kempii, in New York waters". NOAA NMFS Fishery Bulletin. Retrieved Dec 20, 2015.  ^ a b "Kemp's Ridley Turtle
( Lepidochelys
kempii) - Office of Protected Resources - NOAA Fisheries". NOAA Fisheries. Retrieved 2009-05-11.  ^ "Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Pictures, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Facts". National Geographic. Retrieved 2013-10-13.  ^ "Sea Turtle
Recovery Project". National Park Service. March 9, 2010. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010.  ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ( Lepidochelys
kempii, p. 139). ^ Dundee, Harold A. (2001). "The Etymological Riddle of the Ridley Sea Turtle". Marine Turtle
Newsletter. 58: 10–12. Retrieved 2008-12-30.  ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Help Endangered Animals - Ridley Turtles. Gulf Office of the Sea Turtle
Restoration Project. Archived from the original on February 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-05.  ^ Philips, Pamela (September 1988). The Great Ridley Rescue. Mountain Press. p. 180. ISBN 0-87842-229-3.  ^ " Endangered Species Act
Endangered Species Act
(ESA) :: NOAA Fisheries". Nmfs.noaa.gov. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-10-13.  ^ "Draft Bi-National Recovery Plan for the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle ( Lepidochelys
kempii)" (PDF). nmfs.noaa.gov. Secretariat of Environment & Natural Resources Mexico, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Interior. September 19, 1984.  ^ "2010 Threats Assessment, NOAA Fisheries".  ^ "Current Sea Turtle
Nesting Season". National Park Service. Archived from the original on March 25, 2015.  ^ Yahoo.com, Endangered turtle nests found in Texas ^ "Sea Turtles recovered from Oil Spill Gulf of Mexico". via Louisiana Department of Wildlife
and Fisheries. May 31, 2007. Archived from the original on October 23, 2016.  ^ Masti, Ramit (June 1, 2011). "Nesting turtles give clues on oil spill's impact". Associated Press. Fox News. Retrieved July 28, 2017.  ^ Kaufman, Leslie (May 18, 2010). "Gulf Oil Again Imperils Sea Turtle". The New York Times.  ^ a b Macintosh, Zoe (July 16, 2010). "NASA Rescues Baby Sea Turtles Threatened by Gulf Oil Spill". Space.com. Purch. Retrieved July 28, 2017.  ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved 2010-06-25. , centurylink.net, July 15, 2010 ^ "NASA's turtle egg rescue from Gulf oil spill is deemed a success". Associated Press. NOLA. September 8, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

Garman S. (1880). On certain Species of Chelonioidæ. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., Harvard
College 6 (6): 123-126. (Thalassochelys kempii, new species, pp. 123–124). Marine Turtle
Specialist Group (1996). " Lepidochelys
kempii". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 1996: e.T11533A3292342. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.1996.RLTS.T11533A3292342.en. Retrieved 9 January 2018.  Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is critically endangered and the criteria used Sizemore, Evelyn (2002). The Turtle
Lady: Ila Fox Loetscher of South Padre. Plano, Texas: Republic of Texas
Press. p. 220. ISBN 1-55622-896-1. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lepidochelys

Profile from the OBIS-SEAMAP project of the Ocean Biogeographic Information System Turtle
Trax.org: Kemp's ridley sea turtle
Kemp's ridley sea turtle
Profile Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island wiki Information on Kemp's ridley sea turtle Information from the Florida
and Wildlife
Conservation Commission Texas
Parks & Wildlife
Dept. — Kemp's ridley sea turtle

v t e

family Cheloniidae


Species of the subfamily Carettinae


Loggerhead sea turtle


Kemp's ridley sea turtle Olive ridley sea turtle


Species of the subfamily Cheloniinae


Green sea turtle


Hawksbill sea turtle


Flatback sea turtle

Phylogenetic arrangement based on turtles of the world 2012 update: annotated checklist. Extinct turtles not included.

v t e

Extant turtle taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Subclass: Anapsida Order: Chelonii or Testudines










Chelydra Macrochelys




Caretta Lepidochelys


Chelonia Eretmochelys Natator










Kinosternon Sternotherus


Claudius Staurotypus




Chrysemys Deirochelys Graptemys Malaclemys Pseudemys Trachemys


Clemmys Emys Glyptemys Terrapene



Batagur Cuora Cyclemys Geoclemys Geoemyda Hardella Heosemys Leucocephalon Malayemys Mauremys Melanochelys Morenia Notochelys Orlitia Pangshura Sacalia Siebenrockiella Vijayachelys








Aldabrachelys Astrochelys Chelonoidis Chersina Cylindraspis Geochelone Gopherus Homopus Indotestudo Kinixys Malacochersus Manouria Psammobates Pyxis Stigmochelys Testudo







Cyclanorbis Cycloderma Lissemys


Amyda Apalone Chitra Dogania Nilssonia Palea Pelochelys Pelodiscus Rafetus Trionyx





Acanthochelys Chelus Mesoclemmys Phrynops Platemys Rhinemys


Chelodina Elseya Elusor Emydura Flaviemys Myuchelys Pseudemydura Rheodytes





Pelomedusa Pelusios



Erymnochelys Peltocephalus Podocnemis

Phylogenetic arrangement based on turtles of the world 2012 update: annotated checklist. Extinct turtles not included.

Portal Book
See also List of Testudines families

Taxon identifiers

Wd: Q301089 ARKive: lepidochelys-kempii EoL: 1056176 EPPO: LPOCKE Fauna Europaea: 214778 GBIF: 2442165 iNaturalist: 73844 ITIS: 551770 IUCN: 11533 NCBI: 8472 Species+: