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Riddle Of The Ridleys
Riddle of the Riddleys

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In his classic book, The Windward Road, Archie Carr devoted an entire chapter to "the riddle of the ridley." To his profound consternation, Carr acknowledged that as far as he knew, no one had ever found a nesting Kemp's ridley turtle or even a Kemp's ridley egg. How could this be?

It was a "tough and nagging mystery" that baffled Carr for nearly 20 years. But in 1961, a biology professor at the University of Texas, Corpus Christi, called Carr and told him about a film he'd stumbled upon in Mexico. He insisted that Carr see it.

The amateur film, shot in 1947 by a wealthy Mexican engineer, stunned Carr. It showed an estimated 40,000 ridley sea turtles arriving en masse on the beaches of Rancho Nuevo, Mexico, south of Brownsville, Texas. It was a nesting armada that science never knew existed. Here was where it all happened for the mysterious Kemp's ridley!

An elated Carr soon launched a field trip to Rancho Nuevo. But he would discover only scant traces of the nesting ridley hordes that had once so commonly invaded the shores there. The great, annual arrival ("arribada") of the egg-laying ridleys was a thing of the past. Carr had solved the ridley riddle only to find disturbing new proof that entire species of turtles were disappearing from the planet.