The Kemp's Ridley (Lepiochelys kempii, named for Richard M. Kemp, a fisherman interested in natural history who submitted the type specimen from Florida) and its cousin, the Olive Ridley, are the smallest known sea turtles. The Kemp's Ridley is the most endangered of all marine turtles. Only 580 females nested in 1994, compared to 40,000 on a single day in 1947. The largest single source of Kemp mortalities is drowning in shrimp nets. The Kemp's Ridley has received protection in Mexico since the 1960s and was listed as endangered throughout its range in 1970 under United States law.
Padre Island National Seashore was founded by Public Law 87-712 (The Founding Legislation of Padre Island National Seashore), 87th Congress, September 28, 1962. Padre Island is a nesting place for the Kemp's Ridley turtle. Visitors are warned in nesting periods with a specific orange flag with a black turtle hoisted below the American flag. A picture of the Entrance Station of Padre Island National Seashore shows the flag, with the following caption: "The Kemp's Ridley turtle nesting alert flag will be flown at the National Seashore Visitor Center and Entrance Station on days when Kemp's Ridley nests are found in Texas. On these days, the chance of finding more nests increases. When you see the flag, please be especially watchful for nesting. Please always report nesting observations immediately."VEXILLOPHILE
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