Hawksbill Sea Turtle – Eretmochelys imbricata

Description

You will first notice that the Hawkbill Sea Turtle features a heart shaped shell on its body. As the turtle gets older that heart shape will change and the shell will get longer. The head is small and tapered with a mouth that resembles the beak of a bird. They have two pairs of scales along the front of their bodies.

You will notice small claws on their front flippers. This is a smaller type of sea turtle with an overall size of less than three feet and weighing from 100 to 200 pounds. They are slow moving turtles on land.

Distribution

The majority of Hawksbill Sea Turtles live in the tropical areas of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Yet there are also large numbers of them in colder areas including around Massachusetts and New Jersey in the United States. They love to be in rocky areas and mainly stay in the shallow waters. It is unusual to find them more than 65 feet below the surface.

Generally, anywhere you find coral reef areas you will find an abundance of Hawksbill Sea Turtles. They spend most of their time in the water but they are good climbers on land in order to get to the sandy areas to deposit their eggs.

Facts about Eretmochelys imbricata.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle – Eretmochelys imbricata.

Diet /Feeding

The main source of food for the Hawkbill Sea Turtle is sponges. They also consume jellyfish, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and worms to satisfy their need for food.

Reproduction

Females and females are ready to mate when they are about three years of age and for males it is about four years of age. Mating only takes place every two or three years for the females. The process occurs in the shallow waters near the beaches. The female decides who she will mate with. There are some theories that the males and females mate with the same turtle each time but there isn’t enough evidence at this time to confirm that.

The females will go to the beach to make a nest where she will deposit the eggs. In a single mating season she will do this about three times. Each set of eggs will be deposited about 15 days apart. She will lay from 100 to 150 eggs at a time. It will take approximately 60 days for the eggs to hatch.

The offspring are very susceptible to predators while they are young. This is due to them not being able to dive yet. Therefore they have to live at the surface of the water near the coastline. Many of them are consumed by predators though before they even make it to the water.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle characteristics.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle anatomy.

Human interaction

For centuries humans have consumed the Hawksbill Sea Turtle for the meat. They have also taken the eggs for their own consumption which prevents the population from growing. Another problem was the selling of the shells from the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. This was mainly a market in Japan that has been banned since 1994.

Conservation It is estimated that a Hawkbill Sea Turtle can live up to 50 years in the wild. Even adult Hawksbill Sea Turtles though has many predators that they have to watch out for. They include raccoons, crocodiles, sharks, and large fish. The exact number of them that remain has proven to be difficult to accurately estimate.

Even so, it is now illegal to hunt or to kill the Hawksbill Sea Turtle in many areas of the world. It is believed that there are low enough numbers for them to be placed on the Critically Endangered Species list. In order to find out how well conservation efforts have been though a good count on the number of them needs to be compiled.