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Kemp's Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Kemp's Ridley NestThe Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the smallest sea turtle and has a round, grayish-black to drab olive shell which lightens in color as the turtle ages. On December 02, 1970, the Kemp's ridley sea turtle was designated as endangered. The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nests on Mexico and Texas’s Gulf coast. On a rare occasion this species will lay nests in South Carolina: one in 1992, one in 2008, and one 2015. Hatchlings stay in the pelagic (open ocean) environment one to two years. Some leave the Gulf of Mexico and are distributed along the east coast (Florida to Massachusetts) of the United States. Small juveniles of this species {18 to 65 cm (11 to 26 in)} occur along the South Carolina coast during the summer. They feed on fast swimming crabs (i.e. the blue crab). This species represents the second most common turtle to strand on our coast and are often caught by hook and line fishermen. Recent increases in Kemp’s ridley turtle strandings could also be due to an increasing population.

For a more comprehensive review, please read the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Conservation Sheet.

Kemp's ridley sea turtle Recovery Plan second revision

Kemp's ridley nesting facts:
  • Nesting: May - July
  • Adults are on average 60 - 65 cm straight carapace length
  • Diurnal nesters, alternating crawl
  • Mean number of clutches per season 3
  • Tend to nest in arribadas
  • Time between arribadas: 20 -28 days
  • Some nest in between arribadas as solitary nesters, internesting interval 14 days
  • Remigration interval: 2 years
  • Width of Crawl = 80 cm
  • Largest Eggs are 3.9 cm in diameter, 30 g in mass and 31 cc in volume
  • Mean clutch count 110 eggs
  • Mean incubation duration is 45 – 58 days