Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

  • kemps.jpg
     A Kemps Ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys kempii.  Photo by David Malmquist.
  • PIT Tag
    PIT Tag  Kate Mansfield injects a PIT tag into a Kemps Ridley sea turtle in the VIMS Sea Turtle Stranding Facility.  Photo by David Malmquist.
  • scanner.jpg
     Kate Mansfield uses a scanner to check a PIT tag before releasing a Kemps Ridley sea turtle from the VIMS Sea Turtle Stranding Facility.  Photo by David Malmquist.
  • release_crowd.jpg
     Kate Mansfield (L) and Meredith Fagan (R) release a tagged Kemps Ridley sea turtle as part of the VIMS Sea Turtle Stranding program as students from the Williamsburg Montessori School look on.  Photo by David Malmquist.
  • entering_the_water.jpg
     A Kemps Ridley sea turtle prepares to enter Chesapeake Bay after being tagged as part of the VIMS Sea Turtle Stranding program.  Photo by David Malmquist.
  • ready_to_swim.jpg
     A Kemps Ridley sea turtle begins to swim back into the Bay after being tagged as part of the VIMS Sea Turtle Stranding program.  Photo by David Malmquist.
  • wake.jpg
     A submerged Kemps Ridley leaves a surface wake as it swims back into the Bay after being tagged as part of the VIMS Sea Turtle Stranding program.  Photo by David Malmquist.
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Kemp’s ridleys (Lepidochelys kempii) are the second most common sea turtle in Virginia waters, with  ~200-300 visiting Chesapeake Bay each summer. Those found in the Bay are typically juveniles feeding on crabs, mollusks, and other crustaceans. Kemp’s ridleys are the smallest and rarest of all sea turtles and are listed as “endangered” throughout their range. The average length of  Kemp's ridleys in Chesapeake Bay is ~ 39 cm (15 in).

Status

Listed as "Endangered"; population in crisis

Size

Adults under 76 cm (30 in),  80 -100 pounds

Sexual Maturity

 8-15 years

Nesting Habitat

Only major nesting site is Rancho Nuevo, Mexico; open beach

Juvenile Habitat

Gulf of Mexico (also primary adult habitat); Virginia, and Cape Cod

Diet

Primarily crabs, mollusks, and other crustaceans