Cute Endangered Animal: Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Audubon/Louisiana Marine Mammal <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/50286514@N05/sets/72157623970329897/">via Flickr.</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Meet this uglorable lil’ guy, a baby Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle who I’ll call Kurt. Kurt the turtle is in the middle of having his mouth washed out not because he said a swear word, but because BP decided to take a few safety “shortcuts.” Named after Florida naturalist and fisherman Richard Kemp who discovered the species in 1880, the Kemp’s Ridleys are the most endangered sea turtles in the world. Slight by nature, Kemp’s are also the smallest marine turtles in the world: adults weigh only 100 lbs. A hundred pounds may seem like a lot until you learn that the Loggerhead sea turtle clocks in at about 300 lbs, and the Hawksbill sea turtle weighs around 200 lbs. Compared to them, the Kemp’s is positively svelte.

Kurt the Kemp’s Ridley (above) is just a juvie, though, and he’s one of at least four Kemp’s reportedly mired by the BP spill. However, there could be additional casualties obscured by Fish & Wildlife’s large number of uncategorized wildlife. In addition, Kemp’s Ridleys nest during the summer on the east coast of Mexico, in the state of Tamaulipas, meaning some will likely have to traverse the increasingly soiled Gulf to get there.

 

Currently, the biggest threat to Kemp’s Ridleys is…wait for it…humans. Earlier in the 1900s, Kemp’s nearly went extinct after their eggs were over-harvested as a food source. Although their Mexican and Texas breeding grounds were protected starting in the 1960s and 70s, they’re still having a hard time rebounding due to commercial fishers and shrimpers which accidentally scoop up the turtles as they swim or feed on crabs and shellfish. Humans have been making some amends, through conservation programs and even ecotourism. Mexican tourists near certain beaches can protect hatchlings from predators as the animals make their way from nest to the sea. At least one resort goes a step further due to its location right by a turtle nesting site: “When the sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and let nature take its course, they face a tiny obstacle: nature has a big resort sitting on it. Problem solved when the resort staff transports the eggs to a nursery for incubation. Once the eggs hatch—after about 45 days—the baby sea turtles are ready to enter the wild.”

As Kurt the turtle was not available for interviews, I have no idea how he got into the ocean. But I do know that these turtles need all the help they can get, and the BP spill? Not helping. As consolation, a few more pics below of Kurt getting a bath.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate