Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle
Scientific Name: Lepidochelys kempii
Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Description
The Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle is among the smaller species out there. In fact, when people find them they often assume they are looking at a young sea turtle rather than one which is full grown. This is because there is so much attention focused on the larger sized sea turtles that these smaller ones are often overlooked. Now is your chance though to learn about one of the species out there.
A full grown sea turtle in this category will weigh about 100 pounds and end up with a length of around 3 feet. They are darker in color when they are young so the lighter the color is the more mature the sea turtle happens to be. You will see spots of white and yellow emerging as they get older too.
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Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Anatomy
One of the fascinating features that the Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle can do is take care of its own metabolism. This is a feature that really allows it to be able to adapt to so many different environments. This is one of the handful of creatures on Earth that is known to have this unique ability. The main purpose of it is to allow them to stay under the water for very long periods of time.
The flippers of this particular species of sea turtle are very unique in design as well. They also have claws on them that they use mainly when they are on the land. This allows them to move faster and to be able to dig.
Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Evolution
While we are aware that sea turtles have lived for millions of years, we really aren’t sure how that has all happened for them. The best scenario is that they probably ended up needing to adapt to the water and to get off the land. Perhaps there were too many threats on the land or they weren’t able to find adequate amounts of food. What evolved has to be their control over metabolism and their flippers for swimming.
Even with the information we have about the evolution of sea turtles it is hard to break it down into specifics for different species. As a result there is still plenty of discovering when it comes to this aspect of their lives that we hopefully will be able to learn about later on.
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Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Behavior
Many people don’t realize it but male Kemp Ridley Sea Turtles never come out of the water. That is right; as soon as they make it in there as a new offspring they will stay there until they die. This is a feature of sea turtles that is very unique to this particular species.
The females will only go to the shore in order to lay their eggs. This is a process that involves them returning to the same place year after year. Sometime though that can be an extremely long journey. They will refuse to deposit those eggs anywhere else. If she can’t make it to her destination then they will be absorbed by her body.
Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Habitat
You will find these sea turtles out there where it waters are very warm. That is why they will migrate in the colder times of the year to other locations. The main habitat of them is around Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. These are also prime locations where so many others migrate in order to find warmer waters. Even those that do live there year round often migrate so they can meet other sea turtles to mate with.
In areas of warm water there is often plenty of algae that grows. These sea turtles use that to their advantage. It can be very difficult to end up migrating long distances. However, when they can float on pieces of algae they get to rest and they make a great deal of progress towards reaching their destination.
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Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Feeding Habits
Due to the fact that Kemp Ridley Sea Turtles are found on algae many assume that they are feeding on it. However, these are meat eating creatures. Their diet includes jellyfish, mollusks, and various types of fish. Since they can control their metabolism they don’t have to eat very much at all. When food is limited they can go a full three months before they end up having to find something to eat.
Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Reproduction
This sea turtle can live in the wild for up to 50 years. They will begin to reproduce when they are about 10 or 15 years of age. They can continue to reproduce each year of life as long as they are healthy enough. This is more of a concern for the females due to the traveling involved with getting to the nesting area. The process of how these sea turtles are attracted to each other is still a mystery.
It can take the females a very long time to get back to where she needs to deposit her eggs. This is a synchronized effort with the females traveling in large groups and encouraging each other to move on. As a group they will move onto the land and seek out a location to deposit up to 200 eggs each. There can be several thousand females doing this at the same time. They will also all be back into the water before the sun goes down.
The eggs are left there in the mud or the sand for a couple of months before the young all begin to hatch around the same time. Then they will scramble to get to the water as fast as they can. It isn’t known what attracts them there but they are instinctively on the move as soon as they are out of the shell.
Baby Kemp Ridley Turtle
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Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle Predators
There are quite a few different types of predators out there for the Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle. Most of them affect the younger ones before they hatch or as they try to get to the water. There are dogs in some areas, coyotes, and even birds that will consume the eggs. This can result in a large number of them disappearing before they hatch. When they are moving to the water there always seems to be plenty of birds that come down to feed on them.
There are many areas out there where the biggest predator though happens to be humans. They can come in and take more than half of all the eggs that have been deposited and then they eat them. This means there are less and less of them being successfully able to grow up and to reproduce themselves. This is something that we should all be aware of and working to change.
Due to habitat destruction and the consumption of these eggs, the Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle is considered to be the one that is at the biggest risk of becoming extinct. Even though there are conservation efforts in place it is still very hard to get their numbers to increase fast enough. One option is to help protect the eggs from predators including humans. Another is to try to get more of them into the water successfully after they hatch. Only time will tell if these efforts are going to be enough or not.