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Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle on the sandKemp's Ridley Sea Turtles in North Carolina

KEMPS RIDLEY TURTLE Lepidochelys kempi

STATUS: Endangered.

DESCRIPTION: The Kemp's ridley is a small to medium-sized sea turtle with a very broad, heart-shaped shell. The upper shell, ridged in the center, is dark gray or gray-brown to olive green. The lower shell is white or yellow. The triangular head has a hooked beak with large crushing surfaces. Adults weigh between 77 and 93 pounds and are from 22 to 30 inches in length.

DISTRIBUTION: Adults are found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico. Immature turtles can be found along the Atlantic coast as far north as Massachusetts and Canada. Nesting occurs in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and sometimes in Texas.

HABITAT AND CHARACTERISTICS: Kemp's ridley prefers shallow coastal waters, often with shorelines of red mangrove. It feeds on crabs, shrimp, snails, sea urchins, sea stars, fish and some saltwater plants. The average nest holds 110 eggs. Incubation takes about 50 to 70 days.

Species Distribution from known occurrences. Species may occur in similar habitats in other counties.Green counties indicate observed within 20 years. Yellow counties indicate an obscure data reference to the species in the county. Red counties indicate observed more than 20 years ago.

Species distribution of Kimp's RidleySea Turtle in NCa Ridley nesting on the beach

Species Location Map based on information provided by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.
For additional information regarding this Web page, contact David Rabon in Raleigh, NC at david_rabon@fws.gov

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