Seasonal reproductive cycle of the Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempi).
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The seasonal reproductive cycle of the Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempi) was studied under seminatural conditions at the Cayman Turtle Farm, Grand Cayman, British West Indies, from June 1987 to July 1988. Male L. kempi displayed a prenuptial rise in serum testosterone 4 to 5 months prior to the mating period (March). Male testosterone then declined sharply during the mating period. Female L. kempi also displayed a prenuptial rise in serum testosterone, estradiol, and total calcium 4 to 6 months prior to the mating period (March). Female testosterone and estradiol declined during the nesting period (April to July) immediately following the mating period (March). Elevated levels in female estradiol and total calcium corresponded with the period of vitellogenesis as determined from gel electrophoresis and ultrasonography. Serum thyroxine also fluctuated seasonally with elevated levels observed in females associated with the period of vitellogenesis. L. kempi displayed a distinct seasonal reproductive cycle in captivity. Nesting in the captive study group corresponded with nesting in the wild population at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico (April to July). Female endocrine cycles during the nesting period were similar to those observed in the wild population.