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Atlantic Ridley Lepidochelys kempii


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Atlantic Ridley
credit: Johntex

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Alternate name: Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

Family: Cheloniidae, Sea Turtles view all from this family

Description Dorsoventrally depressed body with specially adapted flipper-like front limbs. Horny beak, between eyes there are 2 prefrontal scales. White plastron, 3 or 4 ridges on carapace and plastron respectively on juveniles. Tail of males extend beyond shell.

Dimensions 60-74.9cm. (23 1/2-29 1/2")

Endangered Status The Atlantic Ridley is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. This species has been brought close to extinction as a consequence of egg robbing, the slaughter of nesting females for food, and drownings in shrimp boat nets. The Mexican and U.S. governments began last-ditch efforts in the 1970s to save the species, whose major nesting beaches are along Mexico's Gulf coast. There are estimated, based on counts at nesting sites, to be about 1,000 breeding females today. New devices on shrimp trawlers allow sea turtles to escape when caught in the nets.

Breeding April-July. Breeds offshore then females arrive on land in what is called an armada. Nests on Tamaulipas Beach on Gulf of Mexico. Eggs 1 1/2" (38mm) long. 110 Eggs per clutch. 2-3 clutches. 10-28 days between nesting. Incubated for 40-70 days. Hatchlings sex decided by temperature during incubation. If temperature is below 29.5 C they will be mostly male.

Habitat Coastal waters.

Range Gulf of Mexico from Louisiana to Florida as far north as New Jersey.

Discussion Up to 10,000 females would nest ashore, about 40,000 would congregate away from the beach.