Ridley Sea Turtle

The ridley sea turtle is the smallest marine turtle in the world. Two types of ridley’s , the Kemp’s ridley and the Olive Ridley make up the genus Lepidochelys. Both of these ridleys make up the only sea turtles that nest in arribadas; which means they nest in synchronised mass groups. Although it is unclear what triggers these aribadas- theories include, lunar cycles, female ridley pheromones and offshore ocean winds. Arribada nesting is a behavior indicative of the ridley sea turtle.

The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) is the rarest marine turtle. Although they prefer warm waters they have been found as far north as New Jersey. Generally, however they are found within the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico range. In the U.S. They can be found primarily in Florida and Louisiana. They are the smallest of all marine turtles and at maturity weigh 80-100lbs and reach 26-30 inches in length. They have a roundish olive-gray carapace with a white or yellow-like plastron. Their diet is primarily crabs, but fish, jellyfish, shrimp, and clams are also consumed. An interesting note on the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the male turtle lives its entire life in the ocean – never on land. While the female lives the greater part of their life entirely in the water, only coming ashore to nest.

The olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is also one of the smallest marine turtles. The name is derived from the olive coloration of its heart-shaped carapace. At maturity they may reach 80-100 lbs and grow to reach 23-31 inches in length. Olive ridleys reach sexual maturity at around age 15, which is comparitively younger than other species. The females nest yearly in an arribada (group nesting) and lay clutches of up to 100 eggs. Their diet consists of crabs, mollusks, lobster, fish, shrimp as well as algae and other sea plants. Olive ridleys are pelagic- preferring the open sea, but have been known to also inhabit bays and waters along the coast. They live in the southern Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They may be found off the coasts of South America, Western Africa and Southern California. Although the olive ridley sea turtle is the most abundant of all sea turtles- it is still considered endangered due to degradation of their nesting areas and commercial fishing.

Ridley sea turtle facts include those for both the Kemp’s ridey as well as the Olive Ridley. The Kemp’s ridley is the only marine turtle that nests mostly during the day. Both the Kemp’s and the Olive nest in arribadas, which is unique to this genus. While the Kemp’s ridley is considered the rarest of the sea turtles, the olive ridley is considered the most abundant. Both species of this genus are omniorous, eating both plants and shrimp, crab etc. possibly the most bizarre of the ridley sea turtle facts is the fact that although both species of this genus are considered “ridley” turtles, it is unknown where the term ridley derived from .

The atlantic ridley sea turtle is considered one of the smaller and most endangered marine turtle. Their round to somewhat heart-shaped carapace ranges from olive to a grayish-brown to even black in color.Atlantic ridleys live within the warmer waters along the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and further along to the Mexican coast. Nesting occurs singularly inTamaulipas, Mexico. The atlantic ridley sea turtle is a protected species and the exploitation of them for their eggs, shells and meat is illegal.

Ridley sea turtle habitat differs for both the Kemp’s ridley and the olive ridley. While the Kemp’s ridley prefers the more shallow waters with sandy floors where they can find prey. The olive ridleys , on the other hand, prefer the deep , open ocean waters. These turtles live within a range extending from
the more southern areas of the Atlantic to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They may also be found in the Paific and Indian oceans as well. Concerns regarding the declining population have led to the ridley sea turtle habitat being protected, especially the nesting areas in Mexico.


Blane Perun

Diver - Photographer - Traveler

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