SPECIES: Eretmochelys imbricata
IUCN REDLIST: CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
Hawksbills are found in tropical waters across the globe and have been observed in the coastal seas of as many as 108 countries! Their habitat type can be varied, although they are typically found near coral reefs as they offer a food source and shelter from predators.
Compared to other turtle species, Hawksbill turtles are relatively small. They have distinct serrated shells that are brightly coloured (more so in males) and a beak-like mouth, which is more prominent than in other turtle species. Juvenile turtles have a heart shaped shell, however when the grow their shell becomes elongated and the shape is lost during maturity.
Hawksbills undergo long migrations between feeding sites in order to find food such as; sponges, jellyfish an sea anemones. Hawksbills also rest both in the day and night whilst hiding in ‘caves’ in the coral reef. Socially, these turtles are heavily solitary and only interact every 2-3 years for mating.
Hawksbill mating occurs every 2-3 years in shallow shores. The female hawksbill then lays her eggs onshore buried in sandpits, each nest contain between 60 – 200 eggs. The eggs hatch after 60 days and the hawksbill hatchlings must travel back into the sea, although they are heavily predated on by birds and other carnivores there is no parental investment. This species life expectancy is between 30 – 50 years in the wild.
ECOSYSTEM ROLE & HUMAN BENEFITS
Hawksbill turtles help keep coral reefs healthy by eating sponge and clearing areas for fish to feed which increases biodiversity by creating spaces for species to establish (this is known as secondary succession). If hawksbill turtles were to be removed, it would be hard to fill their ecological role as they are so unique. For humans they add cultural value and hugely attribute to tourism which is vital, especially in countries that are heavily reliant on such trades.
Sadly Hawksbill turtles are caught in trawler nets, used in rare traditional medicine or for soups. Hawksbill eggs are collected to be sold at markets and if they survive all that their habitats be being destroyed by unsustainable fishing practices.
Female hawksbill turtles will always lay their eggs on the same beach they hatched themselves!
** This data set was written by David Stanley of Bournemouth University, England and edited by Stephanie Young**
***Identification of these species has been made through, photographic documentation cross referenced with external specialists and identification books. Any errors in our database will be rectified upon notification, if you feel that we have misidentified any species please help us to improve our research through our contact us page. All people involved will be acknowledge in the website and reports***
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