Lepidochelys kempii

Lepidochelys kempii Garman 1880

Common Names

Atlantic Ridley, Kemp’s Ridley Seaturtle (English)

Languages: English



Kemp's Ridley Turtle is found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico. This species breeds in large nesting aggregations. At Rancho Nuevo, the primary nesting beach for this species in Tamaulipas, Mexico, 42,000 females came ashore to nest on a single day in 1947. By 1989, the number of females nesting on this beach had dropped to 545. Intensive conservation efforts in subsequent decades have been at least somewhat successful: the number of nesting females at Rancho Nuevo was well in excess of 2000 by 2003, with the population apparently continuing on a positive trajectory, and the total number of adult females present in the Gulf of Mexico was estimated to be around 5,000 in 2004. Adults are most often seen off southwestern Florida, much less commonly in the western Gulf. Juveniles range much more widely, to the eastern, western, and north Atlantic Ocean. Nearly all Kemp's Ridley nesting for the world population occurs at Rancho Nuevo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, but nesting has also been reported from beaches in Vera Cruz, Tabasco, and Campeche (Mexico); Colombia; Brevard, Lee, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Sarasota, and Volusia Counties in Florida (U.S.A.); Georgia (U.S.A.); and South Carolina (U.S.A.). Active efforts to establish nesting at several sites in south Texas (U.S.A.) have been successful. Hatchlings apparently spend the first two years of life drifting around the Gulf of Mexico in floating patches of Sargassum Weed (Ernst and Lovich 2009 and references therein).

Author(s): Shapiro, Leo
Rights holder(s): Shapiro, Leo


  • Chelonia dussumierii DUMÉRIL 1835 (synonym)
  • Lepidochelys kempi ENGELMANN 1993 (synonym)
  • Lepidochelys olivacea kempi SCHMIDT 1953 (synonym)
  • Testudo mydas minor SUCKOW 1798 (synonym)
  • Testudo viridisquamosa LACÉPÈDE 1788 (synonym)
  • Thalassochelys (Colpochelys) kempii Garman 1880 (synonym)
  • Thalassochelys kempii BOULENGER 1889 (synonym)


Ernst, C. H., & Lovich J. E. (2009).  Turtles of the United States and Canada, 2nd edition. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Gitschlag, G. R. (1996).  Migration and diving behavior of Kemp's ridley (Garman) sea turtles along the U.S. southeastern Atlantic coast. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 205, 115-135. Abstract
Shaver, D. J. (1991).  Feeding Ecology of Wild and Head-Started Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles in South Texas Waters. Journal of Herpetology. 25, 327-334.