Meet the Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii). The Kemp’s ridley is both the smallest and most endangered of sea turtle species. At maturity, they are 2-2 ½ feet long and around 100 lbs. Their carapace (top shell) is usually almost as wide as it is long, giving it a very round shape. They are found almost exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico.
|Female Kemp's ridley after nesting on Sanibel Island in 2011.|
Juveniles use the estuaries on the west coast of Florida as nursery areas. 95% of nesting occurs in Tamaulipas, Mexico along three main beaches. There is also some nesting in Texas and the occasional nest in Florida. Kemp’s ridleys are unique from the other turtles that are found in Florida’s waters in that they often nest during the day. On the beaches of Mexico, the Kemp’s ridley nests in large groups called arribadas.