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Information About Sea Turtles: Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Sea Turtles: Olive Ridley

Common Name: Olive ridley - named for its olive green colored shell

Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivaceaf

Description: Head is quite small. Carapace is bony without ridges and has large scutes (scales) present. Carapace has 6 or more lateral scutes and is nearly circular and smooth. Its body is deeper than the very similar Kemp's Ridley sea turtle. Both the front and rear flippers have 1 or 2 visible claws. There is sometimes an extra claw on the front flippers. Juveniles are charcoal grey in color, while adults are a dark grey green. Hatchlings are black when wet with greenish sides.

Size: Adults measure 2 to 2.5 feet (62-70 cm) in carapace length.

Weight: Adults weigh between 77 and 100 pounds (35-45 kg).

Diet: Have powerful jaws that allow for an omnivore diet of crustaceans (such as shrimp & crabs), mollusks, tunicates, fish, crabs, and shrimp.

Habitat: Generally found in coastal bays and estuaries, but can be very oceanic over some parts of its range. They typically forage off shore in surface waters or dive to depths of 500 feet (150 m) to feed on bottom dwelling crustaceans.

Nesting: Nest every year in arribadas. Nests 2 times each season. An average clutch size is over 110 eggs which require a 52 to 58 day incubation period.

Range: The olive ridley inhabits tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans.

Status: U.S. - Listed as Threatened (likely to become endangered, in danger of extinction, within the foreseeable future) under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act. International - Listed as Endangered (facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Threats to Survival: Direct harvest of adults and eggs, incidental capture in commercial fisheries and loss of nesting habitat are the main threats to this species.

Population Estimate*: 800,000 nesting females.

Nesting Sites:

Nesting site locations and classification are based on several sources: Sea Turtles - A Complete Guide to Thier Biology, Behavior, and Conservation by James Spotila, 2004; The Worldwide Distribution of Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches, Center for Marine Conservation, 1981; and from SWOT.

* Please understand that world wide population numbers for sea turtle species do not exist and that these are estimates of the number of nesting females based on nesting beach monitoring reports and publications from 2004.

Photo Credits: Adult by Sebastian Troeng - STC, Hatchling by John
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