Wild Fact #49 – Beautiful But Declining – Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle

Kemp Ridley's Sea Turtle

Photo from Wikipedia

 

Cool Facts About the Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle

  • The Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle is among the smallest and rarest species of sea turtles, reaching around 60 – 70 cm (1.9 – 2.3 feet) as adults and 45 kg (100 pounds). Meanwhile the newborns weigh no more than 15 grams (0.5 ounces)
  • These sea turtles have an amazing nesting habit, known as “arribada”, when they return to the sandy beaches of Rancho Nuevo (Mexico) and nest all at once – it is like one big family reunion
  • The Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle mostly lives along the sandy or muddy ocean bottoms, where they spend most of their time chasing after tasty food

 

A Decimated Population

Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtles get their name from the person who discovered them and studied them in more detail, Richard Kemp; however, we still don’t know for sure where the word ‘Ridley’ comes from. Perhaps “Ridley” means “cute and cuddly” in another language since these turtles are indeed cute. They pretty much have a perfectly round anatomy with a beautiful colour , which is why these animals are some of the most loved and adored turtles in the world (at least that is what these turtles are saying but I think the other turtle species disagree). ridley-sea-turtle_687_600x450

Although everybody’s in love with the Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtles, we need to acknowledge that the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as egg collecting have decimated their numbers, making them one of the most endangered species in the world. The saddest part of this story is that humans are their biggest and most fierce predator, because they collect their eggs, catch them for food. And if they don’t hunt them, many of the sea turtles get caught up in the fishing nest and find their end in a more tragic way. Today there are only 2500 nesting females left, which struggle to keep the species alive and their future is looking pretty bleak, to say at least.

 

Famous Nesting Habits

The Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle are known for their unique nesting habit. I am sure you have seen it on TV when a group of sea turtles all gather together on the sandy beaches of the Mexican coasts, lay their eggs and then use their flippers to cover the nests up. Well my friends, those are Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtles. And of course, the moment the turtle babies hatch and run for their lives towards the ocean waters to start their journey into the world after 55 days of incubation. And this should be quite the race as the Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle lays an average of 100-110 eggs in one nest and they nest 2-3 times each season. Although this may seem like a lot of eggs, it apparently isn’t enough as these beautiful creatures are critically endangered.

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