Common Name: Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys kempii
Species: L. kempii
Description The Leppdochelys kempii is also known as the kemps ridley sea turtle and Atlantic sea turtle. These turtles are pretty small compared to other sea turtles. When adults, they can be anywhere from 27-32 inches and way 75-100 pounds. Their shell is usually grayish green color. The bottom part of the shell called the plastron can be a cream color or a pale yellowish color. Both of their back flippers can have up to 1 or 2 claws but the front two flippers usually have 1.
Habitat Kemps usually like the open ocean and gulf waters so they can mate with the females. They are usually found in the Atlantic ocean, bays and coastal waters of the gulf of Mexico. Adult kemps settle in neritic places. Which is sandy or muddy bottoms. They hide from predators and its easier to catch prey. When water gets cold, they can change their metabolic rate and stay under the water for hours.
Food/Breeding Kemps usually eat small fish, jellyfish, and a array of mollusks. They can wait at the ocean floor for fish to swim by or go out looking for something. A kemp can take 10 to 15 years to reach sexual maturity. After they are mature they meet a female and mate. Once the female is ready it lays about 100 eggs on the shore of a beach. After another year the female will come back again and lay more eggs. after about 50-55 days the eggs will hatch. Around 125,000 will leave nests of North American shores but only 1 percent of them will reach maturity. Lower temperatures usually produce more males and warmer temperatures tend to produce more girls. After they get out of the egg it takes them to 3-7 days to reach the surface. After that they head to the water. They eventually start to head deeper to escape from predators.
Population There are a lot of endangered species of sea turtles but the kemp is one of the most endangered species. It was first considered endangered in the 1970. Over the last couple years some people have harvested the eggs and killed them for their skin and meat. Other threats are suffocating in fishing nets and eating trash that was mistaken for fish. Tamaulipas, Colima, and Jalisco of Mexico have been getting more involved in keeping the turtle eggs safe. Thanks to teams of scientist, their population is going up more and more.
Author: Austin W
Resources: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us. http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/kempsridley.htm http://marinebio.org/species.asp?=317
Photo Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Padre_Island_National_Seashore _-_Kemps_Ridley_Sea_Turtle.jpg