The Endangered Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii)


The History of the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle:

Despite the fact that sea turtles have roamed the Earth for over 150 million years, they have also managed to become the most endangered species worldwide, having been placed on the Endangered species List in the year of 1970. This is mainly due to the effect of humans, although other factors also apply. For many centuries, people have harvested sea turtle eggs, as well as killed grown turtles for both food and leather-like material. The population of Kemp's Ridley sea turtles really hit an all time low particularly in the years between the 1940s and the 1960s in both Texas and Mexico.

The Niche of the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle:

Kemp's Ridley sea turtles prefer open the coastal waters and bays of oceans and gulfs such as the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Females come ashore only to lay eggs in beach sand, and young turtles are often found floating on large mats of sargassum, a brown algae. Within these water bodies, Kemp's Ridley sea turtles occupy "neritic" habitats, or neritic zones that contain muddy and sandy bottoms in which they can find food such as shrimp, snails, clams, jellyfish, sea stars, and fish.

Programs & Laws put in place to help protect the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle:

  • The governments of the Mexican states such as Tampaulipas, Colima, and Jalisco were the very first to become involved in the protection of the sea turtle, by helping to protect sea turtle eggs. Aside from the primary nesting site for these turtles at Rancho Nuevo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, scientists have helped to establish a secondary nesting sit on Padre Island National Seashore. To help continue the success of the nesting site, citizens have been asked to leave the animals alone and untouched.

  • Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of WIld Flora and Fauna (CITES), which means that international trade of endangered species (Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles being one of them) is prohibited.

  • Appendices I & II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

  • Annex II of the Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), Protocol of the Cartagena Convention

  • The U.S. is a party to the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC), which is the only binding international treaty dedicated to marine turtles.

Pressures that have led to the endangerment of the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle:

  • Harvesting eggs

  • Killing turtles for meat and leather-like material

  • Ingesting floating trash that they often mistake for food

  • Sand predators such as shore birds that attack young turtles who are trying to find their way back to the sea

  • Incidental capture in fishing gear such as shrimp nets, gill nets, longlines, traps and pots, and dredges

  • Ocean predators such as sharks


"Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii)." Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., 2 June 2009. Web. 4 Oct. 2010.

"Kemp's Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys Kempii)." NOAA Fisheries. Government, n.d.
Web. 4 Oct. 2010. <http:/