Olive ridley sea turtle – Lepidochelys olivacea

Olive ridley sea turtle Lepidochelys olivacea scuba diving canary islands tenerife gran canaria fuerteventura lanzarote la palma gomera el hierro atlantic ocean
Olive ridley sea turtle – Lepidochelys olivacea

The olive ridley sea turtle, also known as the pacific ridley sea turtle, is a species in the family of sea turtles and is therefore part of the order of testudines. Lepidochelys olivacea is the second smallest and rarest species of sea turtles.

Description, Anatomy & Characteristics

The olive ridley sea turtle is up to 78cm long and weighs up to 50kg. Males and females become about the same size.

Their heart-shaped back shell has an olive-green color, while the breast part of the carapace appears green-yellow. The young animals, however, have a grey-black back coloration, with the belly coloring being cream-coloured.

Males can be distinguished from females by their longer tails and longer claws on the front flippers.

Habitat, Distribution & Occurrence

Lepidochelys olivacea lives in shallow coastal waters, preferring areas with high suspended sediment and low salinity. They are usually found within a 15km radius of the coast, at depths between 22 and 55m. They are rarely found in the high seas.

When diving on the Canary Islands it is very unlikely to observe them.

The main distribution area of the olive bastard turtle is the tropical and subtropical zones of the Pacific and Indian oceans. They can also be found in the Red Sea and the warm areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

Feeding & Biology

Lepidochelys olivacea feeds on sea snakes, crabs, cephalopods, jellyfish and sea urchins. They hunt their prey at depths of up to 150m. The fact that they also feed on plants has not yet been confirmed.

Reproduction & Age

It is assumed that the mating takes place near the nesting beaches. However, pairs have been observed mating more than 1000km away from the nearest nesting site. The most important nesting site of the species is Gahirmatha Beach in India. Between 100000 and 500000 females lay their eggs here every year.

One female nests one to three times per season. A nest contains between 30 and 168 eggs. The young hatch after 45 to 51 days. While at temperatures of 31-32°C only females hatch, it is 28°C and less only males.

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