Movement patterns of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico 2004-2007

Erin Seney and Andre Landry, Texas A&M

Dataset credit

Erin Seney and Andre Landry, Sea Turtle & Fisheries Ecology Research Laboratory, Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston


Primary contact Erin Seney Erin Seney Consulting, LLC
Data entry Ei Fujioka Duke University
Data entry Connie Kot



The Kemp's ridley sea turtle Lepidochelys kempii is recovering from declines that reduced nesting from a single-day estimate of 10000 to 40000 females in 1947 to <300 during the entire 1985 nesting season. Although beach monitoring is crucial to estimating nesting population size and activity, in-water data are essential for understanding population dynamics, evaluating management strategies, and ensuring the species’ continued recovery. Fifteen immature and 7 adult female ridleys were fitted with platform terminal transmitters and released off the upper Texas coast during 2004 through 2007. Immature individuals were tracked primarily during warmer months and exhibited preferences for tidal passes, bays, coastal lakes, and nearshore waters, although movement patterns varied among years. Females tracked during their inter-­nesting intervals remained in the vicinity of the upper Texas coast and, upon entering the post-nesting stage, moved eastward along the 20 m isobath to foraging areas offshore of central Louisiana. Satellite telemetry indicated that inshore and continental shelf waters of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico serve as developmental, migratory, inter-nesting, and post-nesting habitat for the Kemp’s ridley. Projected population growth will likely lead to increased use of the northwestern Gulf by the species and more frequent encounters with human activities. The extent of such anthropogenic interactions and need for mitigation measures should be examined and considered by natural resource managers to facilitate continued recovery of this and other sea turtle species in the Gulf of Mexico. Likewise, research efforts should be continued to better understand seasonal in-water distributions, abundances, population dynamics, and mortality risks to all life history stages.


The following research objectives were identified:

(1) to characterize movements of benthic-stage im mature and adult female Kemp’s ridleys in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico; and

(2) to identify Kemp's ridley migration patterns and foraging grounds in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.

Supplemental information





The dataset contains information necessary to locate the species sightings observed in the survey. The structure of the dataset was defined by NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Note that the dataset is a subset of the larger, complete dataset collected in the survey which includes environmental information. The columns before LineNo are applied to the shapefile only. The following information is not included in the dataset but will be found in the master data. For details, please contact NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Track; Speed; GPS Status; Observers; Wind direction; Weather; Sea state; Swell; Visibility; Turbidity; Sunlight; Water depth; Water color; Water temperature; Sighting angle; Effort status.

Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downloadable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission.

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
oidOriginal ID (created by OBIS-SEAMAP)
datetime1Original date/time
obs_dateDate of observation
obs_timeTime of observation
sp_tsnSpecies ITIS TSN
sp_obsSpecies observed
latitudeLatitude of first position
longitudeLongitude of first position
lat2Latitude of second position
lon2Longitude of second position
lcLocation class
iqQuality indicator
sexSex of animal
age_classAge class of animal (adult or juvenile)
body_sizeSCL (in cm)
countryCountry animal was tagged
beach_nameBeach name animal was tagged
notesNotes on animal
cite1Citation 1
cite2Citation 2
Marine mammals0
Sea turtles1,500
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin2004-09-21
Date, End2007-09-17
Temporal prec.111111
Latitude28.27 - 30.05
Longitude-96.54 - -90.35
Coord. prec.3 decimal digits
Data typeTelemetry location
TracklinesYES (ID: 961)
Traveled (km)20,276
Travel hours34,058
Contr. throughSEAMAP_TO_SWOT
Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
Shared with SWOT
GBIF (via DOI)*
* Aggregated summary
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
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