Department of Parks adn Wildlife

What is an olive ridley turtle? The turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is the smallest of the world’s sea turtles. It is thought to be quite scarce in Western Australia, although it has recently been discovered that it nests in the Kimberley.

What does it look like? The olive ridley turtle grows to about 70 centimetres long. The almost circular, greyish-green shell has six or more pairs of costal scales (the large scales found on either side of the shell). There are two claws on the front and rear flippers.

Photograph: Olive ridley turtle

Graphic : Location Map of Olive ridley Turtles in Western Australia Where does it live? It lives in shallow, protected tropical and subtropical seas throughout the world, particularly in soft bottomed areas.

What they eat and how: Olive ridley turtles forage for jellyfish, pterapods (winged gastropods), sea stars and small crabs.

Threats: In the past, many olive ridley turtles drowned in prawn trawls but ‘turtle exclusion devices’ are now used to help reduce this threat.

Breeding: It has recently been discovered that olive ridley turtles nest in WA, in the Lalang-garram / Camden Sound Marine Park, at Cape Leveque and elsewhere in the Kimberley, but they are very scarce. They nest on sandy beaches and it is thought they breed every year and nest two or three times each breeding season. The sex of the hatchlings depends on the temperature in the nest.

Behaviour: Like other sea turtles olive ridleys are believed to forage over very large areas.

Conservation status: The olive ridley turtle is a threatened species classed as endangered in Western Australia. Their international status is also endangered. Genetic research shows that the small Australian population is distinct from those in India and Malaysia in the Indian Ocean, and from those of Mexico and Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean. So, although the species is a lot more abundant in some other parts of the world, Australia has its own special olive ridley turtles that it needs to protect.

How you can protect the olive ridley turtle: If you find a turtle with a tag, note the number and contact the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, who conducts turtle tagging in association with Aboriginal traditional owners and numerous volunteers at important nesting beaches throughout WA. The information collected is used to better manage and protect WA’s turtle populations. If you find a dead turtle you should also advise the Wildcare Helpline or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..