Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

The smallest and one of the most vulnerable sea turtles, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle loves shellfish—can’t get enough of them, and would eat them all day if they could. 95% of all Kemp’s ridleys nest together, in synchronized events known as arribadas (arrivals), at a single beach in Tamaulipas, Mexico. During arribadas, which seem to be triggered by offshore winds, lunar cycles, and the release of pheromones, females drag their heavy bodies around the sand, looking for that perfect spot. Mmmm, got it. Their hatchlings break the shell of their egg with a single tooth grown just for that purpose, and begin the perilous journey to sea, beset by predators... including us.  The decline of their populations over the last century has been caused primarily by overharvesting of their eggs, ocean trawling, and oil spills. Following the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Spill of 2010, more than 450 of these sea turtles were found dead. Sea level rise and increasingly extreme weather events driven byclimate change threaten the nesting sites and population sizes of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.

Art by Jules Buck Jones

Lepidochelys kempii 

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