This year there was a large number of Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles stranded due to cold stunning. Over 1,200 turtles on Cape Cod! As an intern at the National Marine Life Center, this meant the opportunity for me to help with the rehabilitation of a critically endangered sea turtle – an animal that I may never have seen in real life otherwise! As an intern I have had the opportunity to help with the food prep, feeding, and monitoring of this endangered turtle.
The Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle starts its life off as a hatchling small enough to fit in one hand. They spend the first couple years of their life growing in floating sargassum seaweed beds where they feed on small animals and plants. As these turtles mature, they change from a dark gray or black color to an olive green carapace (top shell) and a yellow-green or white plastron (lower shell). They reach maturity at around 12 years of age and are
around 80-120 pounds and 26-30 inches long as adults. As subadults and adults, crabs are their main food source. They also eat fish, mollusks and jellyfish. At the National Marine Life Center, we feed them herring and squid.