Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Kemp's ridley turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), is the smallest turtle in the world. These turtles belong to the family of Cheloniidae. They are one of the most interesting and the most endangered sea animal. In the early years, these species were suspected as the hybrid of other turtles but later it came to be known that they are the true species.
The Kemp's ridley turtles are the smallest turtle in the world as it measures around (24 to 28) inches in length and weighs up to 45 kg. Their hard shell is of grayish green and they have pale yellowish or green color at the bottom of the shell. They have a small head, which is triangular and have a small beak. The hatchlings of these species have dark- colored plastron and black carapace.
Habitat and Behavior
The Kemp's ridley turtles are found mainly in the sandy or muddy bottoms. They live there because they can find their prey easily. These turtles can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, coast of England and coast of Florida. These species migrate from one place to another either for breeding purpose or in search of food. However, there are some, which do not migrate at all.
Kemp's ridley turtles are the carnivorous turtle. The main foods of these species are sea crabs. These turtles are very quick and agile in their hunting behavior. Their amazing hunting behavior enables them to catch prey easily. They are also known to feed on sea horses and mollusks. The juvenile of these species are known to feed on snails, crabs and Sargassum.
Breeding / Reproduction
It is believed that these species get sexually mature between 7years to 15years of age. The females lay eggs, which measures about (34-45) mm in diameter. The incubation period in these species is about (48 to 62) days. These Kemp's ridley turtles have a unique and interesting behavior of nesting, which is known as "arribada", which means the arrival in Spanish. As a part of this behavior all the females of these species congregate at the same place. The nesting season occurs somewhat between April to July. The female lays around (50 to 200) eggs and after laying the eggs she covers the eggs with sand. It takes around two months for the eggs to hatch. The life span of these turtles is still not known by the scientists.
The Kemp's ridley turtles are in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list of critically endangered animals. The main reason behind the tremendous decline in the population of these turtles is the harvesting of their eggs. Apart from egg harvesting, the fishing of these species for meat and other products is also responsible for the tremendous decline in their numbers. The government of different countries has taken different measures to protect these species from getting extinct. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) has prohibited the international trade of these species.