The olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is a small turtle that grows to an average of 22-31 inches long and a weight of about 100 pounds. These turtles have an olive-colored or gray carapace and creamy white plastron (bottom shell).
Habitat and Distribution:
Olive ridley turtles mostly inhabit tropical waters, and may be found in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans. The largest nesting areas are in Costa Rica, Mexico, and India.
Olive ridley turtles gather in large groups offshore of their nesting grounds, then come ashore in arribadas ("arrival" in Spanish), sometimes by the thousands. It is unknown what triggers these arribadas, but possible triggers are phermones, lunar cycles, or winds. Some olive ridleys nest singly rather than in arribadas.
During their nesting time, olive ridleys will lay 2-3 clutches of about 110 eggs each. They nest every 1-2 years, and may nest during night or day. The nests of these small turtles are shallow, making the eggs especially vulnerable to predators.
Hatchlings emerge from eggs after 50-60 days and weigh .6 oz at when they hatch. Thousands of hatchlings may go to sea at once, which may have the effect of confusing predators so that more hatchlings survive.
Not much is known about the early live of olive ridleys, but it is believed that they mature in 11-16 years.
Olive ridley turtles are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN RedList. Threats include harvesting for eggs and meat, bycatch in fisheries, nest and hatchling predation, and habitat destruction and pollution.
- Abreu-Grobois, A. and Plotkin, P. 2008. Lepidochelys olivacea. (Online) IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. Accessed February 20, 2011.
- NOAA. Olive Ridley Turtle. (Online) Accessed February 20, 2011.
- Spotila, James R. Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behavior and Conservation 2004. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Turtles.org The Atlantic Green Turtle (Online). Accessed February 16, 2011.
- Waller, Geoffrey, ed. SeaLife: A Complete Guide to the Marine Environment. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, D.C. 1996.