Ridley sea turtle

Ridley sea turtle
Researchers collect
Kemp's ridley sea turtle eggs.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Cheloniidae
Genus: Lepidochelys
Fitzinger, 1843

Lepidochelys kempii
Lepidochelys olivacea

Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys) are a genus of sea turtle comprising two species: Kemp's ridley sea turtle and the olive ridley sea turtle.

Kemp's ridley sea turtles are currently on the New York and United States lists of endangered species .


Adult ridley sea turtles grow to a length of 51–71 cm (20–28 in). They have a weight of 36–50 kg (79–110 lb). They feed on crabs, fish, cephalopods, clams, and some marine vegetation.

Etymology and taxonomic history

The etymology of "ridley" is a subject of speculation. Prior to being known as ridleys, the French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède referred to the Lepidochelys species as "bastard turtles". Renowned sea turtle conservationist Archie Carr claimed that "ridley" was a common Floridan term.[1]


The Kemp's ridley sea turtle's were on the brink of extinction in the 1960s with low numbers of 200 nesting individuals. Due to strict protection laws that protected their nesting sites in Mexico and altered fishing gear to avoid accidental capture of the Kemp's, the Kemp's ridley numbers have increased to estimated 7000–9000 nesting individuals today. The olive ridley sea turtle is considered to have the most abundant numbers today, estimated as 800,000 nesting individuals. The threats to their survival is loss of nesting habitat, direct harvest of the eggs and adults, and getting caught in fishing gear. Protection of the nesting beaches, changes to the fishing gear, and laws against harvesting the adults and eggs have helped the olive ridley sea turtles numbers gradually increase.

Female after laying eggs


  1. Dundee, Harold A. (2001). "The Etymological Riddle of the Ridley Sea Turtle". Marine Turtle Newsletter. 58: 10–12. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
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