Like my cousin, the Kemp’s ridley, I am a relatively small sea turtle. I can grow to 2.5 feet and weigh about 100 pounds. In comparison, the leatherback turtle, the largest sea turtle, can grow to over seven feet and weigh 1,500 pounds!
Olive ridley’s are small in size, but big in numbers—we’re considered the most abundant of all the sea turtles. There are an estimated 800,000 nesting females in the wild. However, these numbers pale in comparison to our historic abundance, which reached over ten million in the Pacific Ocean alone. We were harvested for our meat, eggs and skin, leading to big decreases in our population.
Did You Know?
I get my name from my olive-colored shell. We don’t get our distinctive color until adulthood, though—juveniles are dark grey.
We have pretty unusual nesting habits. For other sea turtle species, mothers file on to nesting beaches one by one over the course of nesting season, which can last months. We, like our Kemp’s ridley cousins, prefer to nest in groups. When it comes time to nest, we will gather off of the beaches in big groups, then come onshore all at once! We can number in the thousands—the more the merrier, am I right? This event is known as an arribada, which means “arrival” in Spanish.
Even though arribadas seem like a big party, traveling in such big numbers can put us at risk. Our populations are threatened by people capturing eggs and adults, especially during an arribada. Like other sea turtles, we are also threatened by marine debris—we can become entangled in fishing nets, accidently ingest balloons or plastic bags and more. It’s so important to reduce the amount of plastic pollution entering the ocean so I have a healthy ecosystem in which to live.