Creature Feature – Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Today is World Sea Turtle Day! To celebrate, this week’s featured creature is the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle. 

There are seven species of sea turtle – six of which are classified as either Threatened or Endangered. The exception, the Flatback turtle, is classified as Data Deficient. Despite females of this species nesting more than other species, this species is the most endangered species of sea turtle. It is estimated that there are less than 10,000 individuals worldwide. 

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle


Scientific Name: Lepidochelys kempii 

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Testudines

Family: Cheloniidae

Genus: Lepidochelys

© NOAA Fisheries

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Fact File

? Size: Individuals measure up to 75cm (carapace length) and can weigh up to 50kg

? Distribution: Adults are mostly limited to the Gulf of Mexico. Juveniles range between tropical and temperate coastal areas of the northwest Atlantic Ocean and can be found up and down the east coast of the United States 

? Diet: This sea turtle species primarily eat crabs, but will also prey on fish, jellyfish and small mollusks

? Behaviour: Kemp’s ridley turtles are perhaps most well known for their unique nesting habits. Female Kemp’s ridley turtles come together all at once. Unlike other sea turtles, female Kemp’s ridley turtles nest in the daylight

? IUCN Status: Critically Endangered. Kemp’s ridley turtles face many threats both on shore and in the ocean. Primary threats to Kemp’s ridley survival include incidental capture in fishing gear, or bycatch, egg collection, climate change and pollution