Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles are the smallest species of turtle.
This amazing species is usually found in the Gulf of Mexico. However, they have been known to travel far north to Nova Scotia. They are the smallest and most endangered species of turtle. They are beautiful and adorable species, reaching only about 2 feet in shell length but weighing up to 100 pounds. Their life span is 50 years.
The main risk to their extinction is the overharvesting of their eggs, and these turtles have not been able to rebound. This is a direct cause by humans, and must stop. Some of their nesting sites have been protected, and commercial fishing fleets are now using turtle excluder devices. However, they have been hunted for the last century and although some restrictions have been put in place, this species is struggling to recover.
Their IUCN status is critically endangered and their current population and population trend is unknown. This is probably because the turtle is so rare to see. It's devastating to think that humans have caused a whole species to become critically endangered. An innocent species that may not survive much longer. This species has struggled to adapt to the competition from humans.
The way that female Kemp’s Ridleys nest is particularly dangerous. It is called arribadas and involves females taking over huge amounts of beaches. They must drag their heavy bodies through the sand until they find a good spot to lay their eggs. Later, the tiny hatchlings must make their way to sea using the moon as a guide. This is the most dangerous part. The baby turtles sometimes see human lights such as traffic lights or torches and follow these, rather than the light of the moon and sound of the sea. This can lead them in the opposite direction, and eventually kill them. It is important that when any species of turtle is laying their eggs the beach is left undisturbed, with only natural light.
However it is possible to see the turtles lay their eggs at night and watch the turtles hatch in the morning. Using a red light, the turtle is not disturbed and if silent they are unaware of you being there. This is important when studying the species.
This incredible creature is not only adorable but innocent and a victim of human mistakes. We must take action and reduce our carbon footprints and plastic use, not only for the Kemp's Ridley but for all creatures on Earth.