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Kemp’s Ridley’s Sea Turtles

Informative Speech: Endangerment of Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles In 1947 it was reported that over 40,000 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles were nesting along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and today only 200 Kemp Ridley’s remain on those grounds, making these sea turtles one of the most endangered animals in the United States. When I was younger I remember visiting South Padre Island and seeing holes a long the shore line with little eggs inside them, I also remember this man who drove up and down the beach looking for those eggs in a golf cart.

I asked my mom “Why is this man taking away these eggs, won’t the momma be sad? ” my mom then told me that these were in fact the eggs of the Kemp’s Ridley. I had no idea how that was relevant, I was six years old and I only understood that this man was stealing baby turtles! Earlier this year I realized that this man worked for a scientific research center. He would find the eggs and carefully place them into an incubator to be taken to the research center for preservation until they were ready to hatch.

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Now that I understood what was happening on the shores of South Padre during my vacation I decided to look into further detail about the Kemp’s Ridley and their endangerment situation and I would like to share this information with you. Kemp’s Ridley’s got their name from Richard M. Kemp who made the first report of seeing the turtles. They mainly in the live in the Gulf of Mexico but some baby turtles are found near the Atlantic. Most female Kemp’s Ridley’s lay their eggs on the main nesting beach of Rancho Nuevo in Mexico.

Where they dig a hole lay their eggs, cover them with sand and then leave them to hatch and get to the ocean alone. Parenting made easy, huh? The Ridley’s are cold blooded amphibians and have a lifespan up to 50 years but today only 1% of the Kemp’s Ridelys survive to reach sexual maturity. This is caused by three main factors, one is that since 1970 these turtles have been taken out of their habitat and brought to Mexico and South Texas to be sold for various recreational uses. As the population of the Ridley’s decreased so did the turtles availability on the market.

The second reason is loss of habitat. Everywhere you look hotels and condos are going up along shorelines taking away the nesting ground of the Ridley’s. There is only one beach, located in Mexico, which is officially protected for the Kemp’s Ridley’s greatly reducing the chances of eggs surviving anywhere other than that beach. And the last and most horrible reason for these turtle’s death and endangerment is drowning in shrimp nets. Of the few turtles that survive being hatched and manage to get by predators, 1/3 of them drown in the shrimping nets they get caught in.

Between 500 and 5,000 Kemp’s Ridley’s turtles are killed this way each year. And what seems to make this even worse is that this is preventable by using a TED net to shrimp instead of a regular net. The TED net makes it possible for any animal that is not a shrimp can escape from the net. In 1989, the government made the use of the net required by shrimp boaters and trawlers fishing in U. S. waters. It is still a problem to get the shrimpers to comply but since the law was enforced the Kemp’s have slowly started to recover.

The preservation of the turtles has been going on for a long while and just recently started to be recognized as a big deal due to the BP oil spill that took place in Gulf waters. Knowing that some people are doing everything they can to keep the Kemp’s Ridley’s population growing is a great thought, considering all of the these trials the species has been through. Last September Corpus Christi wildlife officials said they found a record number of Kemp’s Ridley’s nests on the Texas beaches which is a sign that population of these turtles is looking up.


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