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Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

Lepidochelys kempii

Description:

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) - "Bender", a permanent resident at The Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida, swimming and eating squid. [Bender, a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, was rescued on February 17, 2005 from Upper Matecumbe Key, Florida. The Kemp’s Ridley is the most endangered species of sea turtle and is one of the rarest animals in the world! Bender came into the hospital with a body cavity infection, an injury to the left front flipper, and an old boat hit which was causing this turtle to float. Bender’s flipper was not salvageable and had to be amputated in May of 2005. The blunt force trauma from the old boat hit forced air out of Benders lungs and into his body cavity. This air bubble, trapped underneath his shell, rendered him unable to dive for food so we fit Bender with a lead weight. Bender is a lifer and will remain at the hospital as a permanent resident. ~The Turtle Hospital ] << Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), or Atlantic ridley sea turtle is the rarest sea turtle and is critically endangered. It is one of two living species in the genus Lepidochelys (the other one being L. olivacea the olive ridley sea turtle). Kemp's ridley is a small living sea turtle species, reaching maturity at 2–3 feet (61–91 cm) long and averaging only 45 kilograms (99 lb). Typical of sea turtles, it has a dorsoventrally depressed body with specially adapted flipper-like front limbs. Like other sea turtles, it possesses a beak. ... These turtles change color as they mature. As hatchlings they are almost entirely a dark gray-black, but mature adults have a yellow-green or white plastron and a grey-green carapace. >>

Habitat:

The Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida (Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project, Inc.) is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation; http://www.turtlehospital.org.

Notes:

Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), or Atlantic ridley sea turtle is the rarest sea turtle and is critically endangered. It is one of two living species in the genus Lepidochelys (the other one being L. olivacea the olive ridley sea turtle). Kemp's ridley is a small living sea turtle species, reaching maturity at 2–3 feet (61–91 cm) long and averaging only 45 kilograms (99 lb). Typical of sea turtles, it has a dorsoventrally depressed body with specially adapted flipper-like front limbs. Like other sea turtles, it possesses a beak. Kemp's ridley sea turtles generally prefer warm waters but inhabit waters as far north as New Jersey, They migrate to the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida where they often inhabit the waters off Louisiana. Their range includes the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Almost all females return each year to a single beach—Rancho Nuevo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas—to lay eggs. Some travel as far away as the coast of Ireland. The Kemp's ridley turtle feeds on molluscs, crustaceans, jellyfish, algae or seaweed, and sea urchins. Juvenile turtles tend to live in floating sargassum seaweed beds for their first years. Then they range between Northwest Atlantic waters and the Gulf of Mexico while growing into maturity. These turtles change color as they mature. As hatchlings they are almost entirely a dark gray-black, but mature adults have a yellow-green or white plastron and a grey-green carapace. Some say they reach sexual maturity at the age of 12-13. The nesting season for these turtles is April to August. They nest mostly in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, but sometimes on Padre Island in the U.S. state of Texas. They mate offshore. Pregnant females land in groups on beaches in what is commonly called an arribada or mass nesting. They prefer areas with dunes or, secondarily, swamps. The estimated number of nesting females in 1947 was 89,000 but shrank to an estimated 7702 by the 1985. Females nest three times during a season, keeping 10 to 28 days between nestings. Incubation takes anywhere from 45 to 70 days. There are, on average, around 110 eggs in a clutch. The hatchlings' sex is decided by the temperature in the area during incubation. If the temperature is below 29.5 degrees Celsius the offspring will be mainly male. These turtles are called Kemp's ridley because Richard Kemp (of Key West) was the first to send a specimen to Samuel Garman at Harvard. However, the etymology of the name "ridley" itself is unknown. Prior to the term being popularly used (for both species in the genus), L. kempii at least was known as the "turtle". (credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kemp's_...)

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JackEng
Spotted by
JackEng

Marathon, Florida, USA

Spotted on May 3, 2012
Submitted on May 13, 2012

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