Mysteries of an Ancient Mariner: The Endangered Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

This case study focuses on the mysteries surrounding the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys kempii, the most threatened of the world’s sea turtles. Basic questions about Kemp’s ridleys, such as where they nested, and what were juveniles doing on the eastern seaboard, went unanswered for a long time. Now that researchers know these answers, they can work on trying to mitigate the threats to these, and other sea turtles, including coastal development, fisheries, and harvesting. The essentials of sea turtle conservation biology, including life history traits and threats to survival, are also introduced. The discussion questions provided at the end of the case study will help students think about the links between sea turtle conservation issues and broader questions in marine conservation biology.

Featured in: Staff Favorites: Turtles!

See also:
Endangered Species Management


Case Study: Mysteries of an Ancient Mariner: The Endangered Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle

Author: E. Naro-Maciel, A.N. Mihnovets, M. Martin, K. Durham, T. Lii


Recommended Resource: 1947 Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Nesting film clip

Source: This clip is from "The Heartbreak Turtle" an original film produced by KUHT - Channel 8, public television station in Houston, TX.

Caught on film—an estimated 40,000 female Kemp's Ridley sea turtles deposit their eggs in a single day at Rancho Nuevo in Tamaulipas, Mexico

Usage License: Standard YouTube License


Recommended Resource: Sea Turtles, a Journey of Survival: An Educator's Guide to Sea Turtles


An Educators' guide for Sea Turtle related activities created by the Newport Aquarium, geared towards a younger audience but packed with interesting information and some of the exercises might be scaled up for a higher-level audience.