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the Olive Ridley sea turtle blog post

The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

June 21, 2018

The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

Scientific Name: Lepidochelys olivacea

The Olive Ridley sea turtle is, like the Kemp’s, among the smallest of the sea turtles. The Olive Ridley can weigh up to 115 pounds, but reaches only about 2.5 feet in shell length and is still just slightly bigger than the Kemp’s Ridley. They have a slightly smaller head and smaller shell than the Kemp’s sea turtle.  They are omnivorous reptiles that live to be about 50 years old.  The Olive Ridleys scientific name is lepidochelys olivacea.  The Olive Ridley is considered to be the most abundant sea turtle in the world, being marked as vulnerable, but not endangered. 

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle By Bernard Gagnon

Image by Bernard Gagnon

Appearance And Physical Features

The Olive Ridley sea turtle normally get to weigh in between 77 and 115 pounds, and can grow to an average of 2 to 2.5 feet.

The turtle’s carapace is normally bony without ridges and has large scutes, or scales, present. 

The carapace also normally has about 6 or more scutes that are smooth and lateral.  This shell is almost circular in nature. 

The body is deeper set in than that of the Kemp’s turtle and the adults are colored a greyish green color. 

Both sets of flippers normally have one to two claws on them, with the front ones sometimes having an extra. 

Juveniles are normally charcoal grey and hatchlings are black with greenish sides when they are wet. 

Olive Ridley sea turtle image

Habitat And Diet

Habitat

The Olive Ridley sea turtle is normally found in coastal bays and estuaries, but can also be very oceanic over some parts of its range.

Olive ridleys are found mostly in tropical regions of the Pacific, Indian, and Southern Atlantic Oceans, but have been seen all over the World.

They are primarily pelagic, which means they spend much of their life in the open ocean, but they also have the ability to inhabit continental shelf areas.

They’ll sometimes venture into bays and estuaries.

Diet

It’s normal for the olive to forage off shore in surface waters, or dive to depths of 500 feet in order to eat bottom dwelling crustaceans.

They have very powerful jaws that that enable them to maintain an omnivore diet of crustaceans.

They really enjoy feasting on, shrimp, crabs, mollusks, tunicates, and fish.

Predators

As babies the turtles have to deal with a lot of predators before even reaching the ocean like; crabs, raccoons, pigs, snakes, and birds, among others.

Adults olive ridleys are often taken by sharks, and human are always a big factor when it comes to predators.  In fact, humans are probably the worst of all the olive ridleys predators as they are the cause for most of the threats that the turtles face on a daily basis.

Threats

Other than when they are first born, ridleys turtles have one primary predator who poses the biggest threat of all, humans. 

Humans cause climate change which causes the turtles to have to change their migration patterns because of water temperatures. 

They also destroy their habitats, collect and sell eggs, and accidentally capture turtles in shrimp nets. 

Humans are possibly the worst predator and threat that a bunch of turtles could have. 

In addition to humans, adult turtles have to worry about becoming dinner for sharks, as their powerful jaws have the ability to crush the turtle’s carapace. 

Hatchlings have it the worst.  Not only do they have to worry about human beings they also have to worry about other predators that would swoop them up and eat them before they even reached the ocean. 

Crabs, raccoons, pigs, snakes, and birds will all eat hatchling turtles and will go after the eggs in the nest as well.  If a mother turtles is seen burying her eggs a large number of animals pose a threat to the eggs and hatchings inside them.  

 

  

Breeding And Reproduction

The olive ridley goes through what is known as called arribadas. 

The only other turtle that nests this way is the Kemp’s ridley turtle. 

It leaves clutches of about 110 eggs twice a season. 

These egg clutches normally take in between fifty-two to fifty-eight days to hatch. 

The nesting season lasts from June to December as females ride the wind and the tide to help them reach the beach. 

Olive ridleys have nesting sites all over the world, but prefer tropical and subtropical beaches the most. 

The olive ridley migrate hundreds of miles every year, and come together as a group only once a year during mating season.

Ecology

These turtles are from the family Cheloniidae. This family contains seven different species within five genera. These turtles are truly aquatic and only come on land to mate. These are the only turtle types to have front leg, or flippers, stronger than their back ones. 

The shell of a Cheloniidae is normally very oval and can occasionally be heart-shaped. 

The limbs of the olive ridleys are modified into flippers for swimming and cannot support the normal weight of the turtle on land. 

Unfortunately, these sea turtles have also lost the ability to retract their heads within their shells. This makes them a lot more vulnerable to predators and attacks. 

The adult females are known to migrate hundreds of miles between feeding habitats, mating areas and their preferred nesting beaches in their preferred tropical and subtropical waters.

Study Of The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

In 2014 there was a five-year study that had been completed on the Olive Ridley sea turtle.  They watched the migration patterns and the reproduction of these turtles. 

It was noticed that the male turtles never really come too far into land, and that only female turtles come in land. 

The threats and predators to the turtles were also closely examined.  Through this research it has become possible for the World Wildlife Foundation and other like companies to help the conservation efforts of the turtles.

2 baby Olive Ridley sea turtles at beach

Image by The High Fin Sperm Whale

The Future Of Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

There are conservation efforts that are going on to preserve the turtle’s habitat during their mating season.  The WWF has established Marine Protected Areas or MPAs, where the turtles have safe places to feed and nest.  There are also rules in effect in most areas that limit the ability of fishermen to accidentally trap these turtles, plus made the sales of these turtles and their eggs extremely illegal.  Fishermen have to use certain devices on their net that cause issues for the turtle to enter the net, or make it easy for a turtle to exit a net.  These efforts are being helped by the EPA and local conservationists as well.

olive Ridley sea turtle image

People can participate in beach cleanups in order to preserve the habitat of the Olive Ridley. 

Sea turtles awareness could be raised in many ways.

The shirt on your back is our way of raising awareness, it strikes a conversation, wether its because its stylish or because the design may be intriguing.

Any conversation on this subject helps bring awareness to an everyday person, you can adopt a sea turtle for $30, or educate others. 

Even if one person stops this kind of behavior the turtles will have a much better chance. 

There are many different things that people can do to help the conservation of these turtles, even though they are "threatened" and not yet endangered prevention is always a better option than waiting for the latter.

Our Mission

At Sandy Ripple we want to spread a message. We love to use as many channels as we can, but in order for us to continue to spread a message, and spread it even further, we've created a cool way to share with others who love turtles and a way to also support associations who know the best places to put those dollars to work.

If you'd like to become part of the ripple, click this link to shop our collection of apparel.

A portion of all the proceeds goes to sea turtle groups and organizations, so they can use those dollars where its needed most.

 

Useful Resources

National Geographic. (2018). Olive ridley sea turtle.

NOAA Fisheries. (2016). Olive ridley turtle (lepidochelys olivacea)

Sea Turtle Conservancy. (2017). Information about sea turtles: Olive ridley sea turtle.

See Turtles. (2017). Olive ridley sea turtles.

 

 



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