Early Growth in Weight of Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) in Captivity
Growth in individual weight (w, kg) of Kemp's ridley sea turtles (lepidochelys kempii) in captivity was described for 15 year-classes (1978-1992) of turtles between ages (t) 0.17 to 1.22 yr, using ln- linear regression: lnw = lnc + dt^1/2, where lnc is the intercept and d is the slope (growth rate index). There was significant (P < 0.001) heterogeneity in d among year-classes, with slowest growth (d = 3.798) exhibited by the 1983 year-class and fastest growth (d = 6.929) by the 1985 year-class, but there was no significant trend in d (P = 0.307) over year-classes. The variance of residuals from regression, s^2(reg), ranged from 0.2032 for the 1978 year-class to 0.0075 for the 1992 year-class, and showed a significant (P = 0.0001) logarithmic decrease over the year-classes. This decline in variation among individuals was probably due to a shift toward sex ratios dominated by one sex (females), improvements in rearing facilities, year-around control of seawater temperature which reduced disease incidence, improved diet, and reduced feeding levels. The relationship between w and scl (straight carapace length) was also described.