A Kemp's Ridley sea turtle on the Cayman Turtle Farm, Grand Cayman.
© CI/Photo by Russ Mittermeier
Conservationists are trying to save the few remaining Kemp's Ridleys, the world's smallest and most
endangered sea turtles. Fishing nets and coastal development continue to threaten the species.
The Kemp's and Olive Ridley turtes are the only sea turtles that exhibit synchronous mass nesting, termed arribadas (Spanish for ‘arrivals’) where tens of thousands of females nest during the same 3-7 day period once a month.
Kemp’s ridley’s nearly went extinct without notice, and are now on the rise due to an incredible binational collaboration that included transplanting eggs from Mexico to Texas' South Padre beaches. The turtles were "head-started", meaning hatchling turtles were grown in captivity to larger sizes before being released in an attempt to mimize the number of turtles lost to predators.
Only nesting areas are in Rancho Nuevo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and in Texas; non-nesting range Northwest Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. Kemp's Ridley turtles have the most restricted geographic range of all sea turtle species.
Body size (adults)
Length 60-70 cm; mass up to 60 kg
For all life stages, mostly benthic invertebrates (e.g. crabs of all types, other crustaceans; mollusks) and sometimes jellies
Every 1-3 yr; ~1-3 clutches of eggs per season; 90-130 eggs per clutch; ~30 g grams each (ping-pong ball size); hatchlings emerge after ~60 days of incubation; ~25mm in length and weigh ~15-20 grams)