Abstract

Twenty-one immature Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) were collected following incidental capture or entanglement in recreational hook-and-line gear during 2005–2008 in Galveston County, Texas, United States. Turtles consumed primarily swimming crabs (common blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, and Callinectes spp.), walking crabs (calico box crab, Hepatus epheliticus; mottled purse crab, Persephona mediterranea; and hermit crabs), and polychaete worm tubes. Macroalgae (Sargassum spp.) was also consumed by nearly half of the sampled turtles, presumably incidentally and likely as benthic detritus. The upper Texas coast and local fishing piers provide diverse foraging opportunities for immature Kemp's ridleys but also put the species at risk for interactions with human activities, including gear interactions and ingestion of anthropogenic debris.

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