June 10th - Kemp’s Ridley Day
These are the smallest of the seven sea turtle species, weighing between 75-100 pounds (35 - 45 kg) and measuring approximately 2 feet (.6 m) in length. Until recently, the endangered Kemp’s ridley turtle was on the brink of extinction in the 1960's. Thanks to strict protection laws which protected their nesting beaches in Mexico and reduced accidental capture in fishing gear, the species has begun a slow, but steady comeback from a previous low of only 200 nesting individuals in the 1980’s, to an estimated 7,000 - 9,000 individuals today. They are closely related to olive ridley turtles.
In the US, these turtles are found in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast as far north as Nova Scotia. The primary nesting grounds in Mexico are at Rancho Nuevo, in the state of Tamaulipas, and in Texas along the Padre Island National Seashore. A small number have also nested further north along the Texas coast. However, 95% of all nesting occurs in Mexico in the state of Tamaulipas.
Their population today is a fraction of the population recorded in the 1940’s. The demise of the population is attributed to human interactions, including the hunting for their meat and eggs. Entanglement in fishing gear also poses an enormous threat for this species. Bottom trawling, longline, and gillnet fisheries are all responsible for a large number of deaths every year.
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On June 10th, we celebrate Kemp’s Ridleys, one of the most endangered of sea turtle species. Learn about these turtles and ocean pollution here: www.seaturtleweek.com/kemps-ridley-day & @seaturtleweek #SeaTurtleWeek
Efforts to protect the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are an extraordinary wildlife conservation success story. From a low of just a few hundred turtles, years of work protecting beaches and improving fishing gear, there are now more than 10,000 in the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast. They’re not out of the woods yet, the impact of the BP oil spill appear to be reducing their numbers again. Learn more about Kemp’s ridleys here: http://www.seeturtles.org/kemps-ridley-turtles #SeaTurtleWeek
Cover photo: Adrienne McCracken