Swimming performance of captive-reared Kemp's ridley sea turtles Lepidochelys kempi (Garman)


Swimming performace of Kemp's ridley sea turtles Lepidochelys kempi (Garman) was evaluated over a 6-month period to determine whether an exercise regime increased swimming capacity in captive reared turtles. Three experimental treatments included: (1) turtles exercised twice weekely and exposed to a weekly stamina test; (2) turtles subjected only to a weekly stamina test; and (3) non-exercised controls exposed to a single stamina test at the end of the study. No statistically difference in swimming capacity was detected between treatments 1 and 2, although treatment 1 turtles achieved higher performance levels than those from treatment 2. However, treatment 1 turtles exhibited fewer breaths/min (BRM) and foreflipper strokes per minute (FSM) during stamina tests than did treatment 2 turtles. In contrast, control turtles (treatment 3) were unable to achieve the minimum swimming performance level. These results indicate that the swimming performances of exercised turtles significantly improved during captive rearing. The possible effects of an exercise regime on post-release survival potential are discussed.


pages 213-222


Kemp's ridley sea turtle, Lepidochelys kempi, limb and ventilatory frequency, sea turtle, swimming capacity