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© WWF-Canon / Carlos Drews

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Kemp's Ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), Mexico.

The major nesting beach for Kemp's Ridley turtles is on the north-eastern coast of Mexico. This location is near Rancho Nuevo in southern Tamaulipas. The species occurs mainly in coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and the north-western Atlantic Ocean.

The Kemp's Ridley was listed as endangered throughout its range on December 2, 1970, and its status has remained unchanged. The Kemp's Ridley population has declined since 1947 when an estimated 42,000 females nested in one day to a nesting population of approximately 1000 in the mid 1980's. The decline of this species was primarily due to human activities including collection of eggs, fishing for juveniles and adults, killing adults for meat and other products, and direct take for indigenous use. In addition to these sources of mortality, Kemp's Ridleys have been subject to high levels of incidental take by shrimp trawlers.

Today, under strict protection, the population appears to be in the earliest stages of recovery. The increase can be attributed to two primary factors: full protection of nesting females and their nests in Mexico, and the requirement to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in shrimp trawls both in the United States and Mexico.

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