Rare Sea Turtle Is Making Its Epic Return to Texas Waters After Getting Lost 4,000 Miles Away

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Published: August 30, 2023
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Tally, a rare and endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, is making a comeback after she was found stranded and nearly dead in November 2021. A dog walker found Tally near death, thousands of miles away from her natural habitat on the distant shores of Talacre Beach in Northern Wales. She was then taken to the Anglesey Sea Zoo. Although experts aren’t sure how Tally made it to the north coast of Wales, sometimes small, young Kemp’s ridley sea turtles get swept up in the powerful Gulf Stream and carried across the Atlantic.

After nearly two years, Tally is finally being released back home. At the end of August, Tally will arrive at the Houston Zoo. Veterinarians at the zoo will then see if she’s well enough to return to the ocean. Researchers from Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research will also tag her to track this rare sea turtle. If she’s healthy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will release Tally in Galveston, Texas with the people who helped nurture her back to health in early September.

About Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are incredibly rare. They are the rarest species of sea turtles. These small sea turtles only weigh about 79 to 99 pounds. They mature when they reach 23 to 28 inches of carapace length. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles have a very wide range. Their habitat depends on their sex and age. For instance, these small sea turtles live in the Gulf of Mexico, but also far into the Atlantic Ocean. Scientists have recorded Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from Newfoundland to Venezuela, and also within Ireland, the Netherlands, and Malta.

Another name for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles is Atlantic ridley sea turtles. These marine reptiles eat jellyfish, small fish, crustaceans, and seaweed. Adult Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are opportunistic feeders. They mainly consume crabs.

Atlantic Ridley Turtle Near the Shore of White Sand Beach, rare sea turtle

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are rare. They are also the smallest of the sea turtle species.

©sdbower/iStock via Getty Images

Why are Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles Endangered?

Sadly, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are critically endangered. Their numbers are steadily declining each year. Experts estimate there are only about 7,000 to 9,000 nesting female Kemp’s ridley sea turtles left in the wild today. This is jaw-dropping compared to the 89,000 in 1947.

So, why are Kemp’s ridley sea turtles endangered? What threats do these small sea turtles face? Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are facing threats from habitat loss, pollution, and accidental deaths from getting stuck in nets. Sometimes, these small sea turtles are caught in nets made for fish or crustaceans, and they drown. Sea turtles cannot breathe underwater, however, they can hold their breath for several hours depending on their age, species, and activity level.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mahmud Hidayat/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Nixza Gonzalez is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics like travel, geography, plants, and marine animals. She has over six years of experience as a content writer and holds an Associate of Arts Degree. A resident of Florida, Nixza loves spending time outdoors exploring state parks and tending to her container garden.

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