Common Name: Kemp's ridley - named from Richard Kemp, who helped discover and study the turtle. No one is sure about the origin of the name ridley, which people believe comes from the similar nesting behavior as the olive ridley.
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys kempii
Description: Kemp’s Ridleys have moderate and triangular heads. Its bony carapace has no ridges with large, non-overlapping scales present. Because of the 5 lateral scales, the carapace looks very rounded. 1 claw is on every front flipper, except that the rear flipper has 1 or 2 claws. The carapace of adults is dark grey green with a white or yellowish plastron, while the hatchlings are jet black.
Size: The carapace of adult kemp's ridleys is around 65 cm which is about 2 feet in length.
Weight: An adult Kemp’s ridley sea turtle has a weight of 35-45 kg, which is between 77 and 100 pounds.
Diet: Kemp's ridleys have a powerful jaw that helps them crush and grind crabs, clams, mussels, and shrimp. Fish, sea urchins, squid and jellyfish are also their favorite foods.
Habitat: Kemp's ridley sea turtles live in sandy and muddy bottomed shallow areas.
Nesting: Compared with other species, Kemp’s ridleys nest more, every 1 1/2 years on average. Mass synchronized nestings are also the way they nest, which is called arribadas (“arrival” in Spanish). This type of nesting behavior is also shared by Olive ridley sea turtles. Kemp's ridley nest 2 - 3 times each season. They lay 110 eggs on average in each nest and the time for eggs to incubate is about 55 days.
Range: Kemp's ridleys are usually found in the Gulf of Mexico. Juveniles live in the tropical and temperate coastal areas of the northwest Atlantic Ocean and can be found from the northern border to the tip of Florida on the east coast.
Status: U.S. – Because they are in danger of extinction within the future, the Kemp’s ridleys have been listed as Endangered under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act.
International – With facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the close future, they are also listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
Threats to Survival: Human activities such as collection of eggs and killing adults and juveniles for meat and other products bring the greatest threat to the Kemp's ridley. At the same time, high levels of incidental take by shrimp trawlers significantly decrease the number of Kemp's ridley nests.
Population Estimate: More than 2,500 nesting females.