Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Nests Down Dramatically In Gulf of Mexico

Scientists speaking Nov. 19 at the Second International Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Symposium in Texas have said that the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle in the Gulf of Mexico has experienced a massive decline in nests in the last four years.

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Sea Turtles Affected By Oil Disaster

Sea Turtle Survival

The scientists, 15 to 20 in all, are scheduled to meet Nov. 20 to determine what the best course of action is to reverse the decline of the world’s most endangered sea turtle. 

Research on the decline of the turtle looks at the possibility that the BP oil spill that spewed 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf may have contributed to the decline of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nests in 2013 and 2014. In 2012 there were a record 22,000 nests, yet in 2013, that number dropped to 12,000 nests, which was cause for concern with the scientists. The  decline in the number of nests in 2013 coincide with the turtle’s breeding period, which is every two years. So, mature turtles exposed to the effects of the oil spill would nest in 2013 and 2014.


Kemp's ridley sea turtle hatchling


The Kemp's ridley sea turtle has experienced massive nesting declines since the BP oil spill disaster. 

A recent study on the Kemp’s ridley in the Gulf found oil in the shell of 29 sea turtles that were feeding in the spill area in 2011 and 2012. Recovery efforts of the turtle experienced positive results over 20 years prior to the oil spill.

Other factors may also be at play, including the die off of the turtle’s food source, oxygen depleted dead zones, pesticide runoff, and other chemicals that make their way into the turtle’s native waters. 
Whatever the reason for the decline of this species, the best and brightest scientists are looking into the well being of this reptile and hopefully, can come up with an action plan in the near future to address the decline. 

In addition to the Kemp’s ridley, there are four other sea turtle species in the Gulf of Mexico, the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia mydas), and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata).Only the Kemp's ridley relies on the Gulf as its breeding ground.

John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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