Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Facts for Kids – Smallest Turtle In The World

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the world’s smallest turtle. Not only this, this sea turtle is also the most abundant among all seven marine turtles. This turtle is also known as Pacific Ridley. Kemp’s Ridley turtles are the closest cousins of olive ridleys. Olive ridleys have this unique habit to do mass nesting, known as Arribada. The word “Arribada” is a Spanish term, which means “mass arrival” i.e. thousands of turtles come together for nesting on the same beach. Both (kemp’s and olive ridleys) marine turtles are closely related to each other. However, the main difference between the two is that, unlike kemp’s ridley, the olive ridleys only inhabit warmer waters. Olive Ridleys are solitary and migratory sea turtles, capable of undertaking thousands of miles from their feeding areas to the nesting sites. They spend a lot of time underwater in search of food. Now let’s discover these marine turtles and learn more interesting olive ridley sea turtle facts for kids!

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Facts for Kids

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Description

  • The carapace of olive Ridley is somewhat ring-shaped and it appears like a heart.
  • The turtle derives its name from the color of its shell (or carapace), which is olive-colored. In fact, olive ridley is dark greenish-olive color from above. At times, the growth of algae on the shell gives it a reddish appearance.
  • The hatchlings of olive Ridleys are dark-colored.
  • The underbelly (called plastron) of adult olive ridleys is pale yellow as opposed to greenish-white in juveniles.
  • As compare to females, the male olive Ridleys have relatively less rounded shell. The female carapace is shaped more like a dome.
  • The carapace of olive Ridley lacks ridges.
  • There are bony plates or scales (known as scutes) on the carapace of these turtles. There can be from five to nine scutes along the sides of turtle.
  • The head is short, wide and probably somewhat triangle-shaped.
  • Each flipper of olive Ridley contains two claws. The front flippers are shaped like paddles.
  • The tail of female olive Ridley is short and only just visible. Its tail can only be seen from beneath the shell.
  • On the other hand, male olive Ridleys have much longer tails.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Image - Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Facts for Kids
Female Olive Ridley Sea Turtle after laying eggs – Photo ©  Brad Flickinger

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Size

  • In size, there is apparently no difference between a male olive Ridley and female.
  • By olive ridley carapace length, the turtle is around 62 to 70 centimeters long.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Weight

  • Olive ridley weighs around 80 to 110 pounds.
  • The hatchlings of olive ridleys can have a weight range of 12 to 23 grams.

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Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Lifespan

The lifespan of these turtles is about 50 to 60 years.

How Many Eggs Do Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Lay?

  • Each clutch size of olive ridley contains about 110 to 120 eggs.
  • In a season, a female olive ridley can lay 2 to 3 clutches.
  • The eggs are hatched after about 50 to 60 days.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Nesting

  • By means of her back flippers, the female olive ridley digs a nest measuring 1.5 feet in depth.
  • The maturity age for these turtles is probably 7 to 15 years.
  • Mating occurs underwater and female turtle reproduces after every 2 to 3 years.
  • The nesting season starts from June and lasts until December.
  • In case of solitary nesting, the olive ridleys lay eggs with an interval of 14 days. However, for mass nesting, the interval between each clutch size increases for up to 28 days.
  • At first, the female turtle digs a nest and then after depositing eggs, she covers them with sand. This whole process takes about 1 to 3 hours.
  • The largest nesting sites of these turtles are found along the coasts of India, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle - Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Facts for Kids
Olive Ridley Turtle – Photo Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS

Where Does The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Live?

  • Olive ridleys are found in India, Japan and all the way up to Australia. Off Atlantic Ocean, they are present from west Africa and to Brazil, Guyana and all the way up to Venezuela.
  • These turtles inhabit tropical and warm waters around the world.
  • Olive ridleys normally occupy estuaries and coastal bay habitats. Furthermore, they can also go deep into the open ocean to forage for food.
  • Generally, olive ridleys swim in tropical areas of the Indian, Pacific and the South Atlantic Ocean.
  • By and large, these sea turtles spend most of their time into the open ocean.
  • These marine turtles also inhabit warm Atlantic waters.
  • Olive ridleys tend to do foraging at a depth of up to 328 feet.

What Do Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Eat?

  • The adult sea turtles are primarily carnivores. They tend to eat a lot of different organisms thanks to their powerful jaws.
  • The diet of olive ridleys consists of the following common prey items:
  1. Shrimp
  2. Jellyfish
  3. Crabs
  4. Snails
  5. Rock lobsters
  6. Sea urchins
  • When food is in short supply, olive ridleys normally feed on algae.
  • They may do foraging as deep as 500 feet in order to feed on crustaceans on the ocean floor.
Picture of Olive Ridley Sea Turtle - Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Facts for Kids
Olive RIdley Sea Turtle – Photo ©  Pawar Pooja

Why Are Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Endangered?

  • The mortality rate of olive ridley hatchlings is very high.
  • According to an estimate, out of a thousand newly hatched olive ridleys, just one marine turtle can survive up to adulthood. Sadly, the remaining hatchlings become prey to quite a lot of avian and marine predators.
  • Some of the human activities pose serious threats to olive ridleys. These include:
  1. Coastal development on nesting beaches
  2. Presence of artificial lights often confuse hatchlings and lead them to go into wrong direction, instead of scurrying for water
  3. Vessel collisions
  4. Ghost nets
  5. Incidental catch and bycatch in commercial fishing
  • Humans have over-harvested these marine turtles as well, for the sake of getting their meat and eggs.
  • During the period of 1960s along the coasts of Mexico, it was estimated that at least one million olive ridleys were killed every year.
  • In Mexico City, the police had seized one vehicle in 1996 carrying an illegal stock of 500,000 eggs of olive ridleys.
  • As a final point, the climate change also has a harmful impact on olive ridley sea turtles. By way of example, the Hurricane Pauline in 1997 destroyed about 500,000 nests of olive ridleys on Mexican beach, La Escobilla. To put it another way, these nests would produce 10 million hatchlings or 40 million eggs.

What Eats Olive Ridley Sea Turtles?

  • Olive ridleys have many predators. Among these are sharks, birds and land animals.
  • Crabs and jackals are more likely to eat the eggs of olive ridley. In addition to these, some other predators of olive Ridley’s eggs include:
  1. Feral dogs
  2. Sunbeam snake
  3. Opossums

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Facts for Kids – Video

  • When the hatchlings emerge, they are more vulnerable to predation by frigate birds and other predators including:
  1. Coyotes
  2. Snakes
  3. Iguanas
  4. Raccoons
  • In the end, as these hatchlings make it to the water, sharks and crocodiles may eat them.
  • In water, the predators for adult olive ridleys are mostly sharks and killer whales. Jaguars may attack nesting females on land and it is the only cat whose bite is powerful enough to break the shell.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Population

  • The population of olive ridleys have declined much rapidly, especially in the western part of the Atlantic ocean.
  • According to an estimate, there are around 800,000 female olive ridleys around the world.

Interesting Facts About Olive Ridley Sea Turtle

  • In one Arribada (“mass arrival”), there can be more than 150,000 female olive ridleys.
  • More importantly, a single beach can host more than one Arribada.
  • Apart from Kemp’s ridley turtles, olive ridleys are the only other sea turtles that congregate in great numbers for nesting in the like manner.
  • Strangely enough, olive ridley can take a nap underwater that can last for about 120 minutes.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Facts – Video

Main Sources:

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle“. Aquarium of the Pacific

Olive Ridley Turtle“. Arkive

Abreu-Grobois, A & Plotkin, P. (IUCN SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group). 2008. Lepidochelys olivacea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T11534A3292503. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T11534A3292503.en

“Information About Sea Turtles: Olive Ridley Sea Turtle”. Sea Turtle Conservancy

“Olive Ridley Sea Turtle”. National Geographic 

“Olive Ridley Turtle”. WWF

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