Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Facts
- The Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle serves as the name for a rather magnificent creature. Quite sadly, however, it is also one of the most endangered sea turtles in all the world.
- This holds true due to the fact that perhaps fewer than 1,000 breeding females still exist. For this reason, among others, the IUCN has justifiably listed this reptile as Critically Endangered.
- It also bears the name of Richard M. Kemp who was the naturalist to first identify the species, in 1880. Further, it ranks as one of the smallest sea turtles we know of as well as the smallest within its endemic range.
- The magnificent species is also now under legal protection in all parts of its natural range. However, unfortunately, it also still faces threats to its existence beyond those of the natural predators.
- These, of course, include accidental trapping in fishing nets, and other commercial practices. But, it also includes human disturbance of nesting grounds, both accidentally, and by egg collectors.
Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Physical Description
Most notably, the carapace of the amazing Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle has a rather rounded shape. It also has an average diameter of about 24 in (61 cm). In addition, its maximum known weight is about 100 lb (45 kg).
Among adults, the upper carapace appears a mottled gray and green combination in color. The underside typically presents a pale yellow. Yet, the newly hatched young, extraordinarily, are predominantly a deep purple.
Further, the four flippers develop as quite powerful, making it an extremely fast swimmer, even among related species. Finally, no appreciable degree of sexual dimorphism appears to be present in the species.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata:
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Testudines
- Family: Cheloniidae
- Genus: Lepidochelys
- Species: L. kempii
Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Firstly, the awesome Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle primarily inhabits the Gulf of Mexico. Among similar marine species, this is a rather small range. However, individuals have also reached as far north as Nova Scotia.
Within that range, it solely inhabits the neritic zone where it prefers areas close to shore, with depths of 160 ft (49 m) or less. This creature often inhabits regions of red mangrove, as well.
Additionally, most adult individuals primarily feed on snails, shrimp, and spider crabs. Its natural predators (aside from humans) include foxes, raccoons, weasels, and dogs, obviously, while onshore.
It also remains rather highly migratory by nature as well. This turtle also displays a highly specialized breeding behavior, for which it is rather popular. More than 95% of all breeding females migrate to one beach, in Tamaulipas, Mexico (the one they were hatched on) to lay their eggs….all together.