Facts about Hawksbill sea turtle

19 Hawksbill sea turtle facts

Eretmochelys imbricata

Hawksbills are one of the smallest sea turtles. Their distinguished shells make being considered the most beautiful sea turtles. They are listed as Critically Endangered, however, with no more than 25,000 nesting females alive.

Hawksbill sea turtle
They are sea turtles from the family Cheloniidae.
There are six species in the family Cheloniidae: green sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, flatback sea turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.
Its name derives from its curved, hawk-like beaks.
They are commonly found in tropical coral reefs in three of five oceans: Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian.
The larger population lives in Australia and Solomon Islands–part of the Commonwealth with King Charles III as a Head of State, represented by a Governor-General.
It is one of the smallest sea turtle species.
An adult hawksbill typically reaches 1 meter in length and weighs approximately 80 kg.
Their carapace shape depends on their age.
When young, their shell is heart-shaped and elongates when they mature.
The pattern on their carapace is called tortoiseshell.
It is amber, with an irregular black and dark-brown pattern. It is unique because of its overlapping scutes—five central, and four lateral.
Hawksbills live for an average of 50 to 60 years.
Hawksbills are omnivorous.
They feed on algae, sea sponges, mollusks, crustaceans, fish, jellyfish, and cnidarians.
Their primary food sources are sea sponges.
They feed on selected sponges species, such as Tethya actinia, Aaptos aaptos, or Spheciospongia vesparium. Thanks to their pointed beaks, extracting sponges is easy.
They are resistant to various toxins contained in several sea sponges species.
Because of that, there is little competition for food. It makes them also an essential part of the coral ecosystem.
Although they are capable of holding their breath for approximately three hours, they like to resurface every 15 to 30 minutes.
The earliest fossils date back to 100–120 million years ago.
They fell prey to sharks, large fish, octopuses, and crocodiles.
They are solitary.
They group solely for mating purposes.
They are migrating species.
Migration is required for females to lay eggs. They move from feeding sites to nesting grounds every two to five years.
Females chose the same place they hatched as their nesting grounds.
They dig a hole with claws on their flippers and lay an average of 140 eggs, which then they cover with sand and leaves. After the process is done, females return to the ocean, leaving eggs behind.
The young hatch after 60 days.
It is the most dangerous time of their lives. They are preyed upon by gulls and crabs while on their way from the nest to the ocean.
When exposed to blue light, they exhibit biofluorescence.
Their carapaces glow neon red and green.
Hawksbills are listed as Critically Endangered by the UICN Red List.
They face several threats to survival, the most threatening being the wildlife trade. Their unique shells hold high black market value since they are manufactured into ornaments and jewelry, despite the trade being banned since 1993.

They also face habitat loss, due to coastal development and climate change impacting coral reefs—their primary source of food.

Apart from that, Hawksbills are also susceptible to entanglement in gillnets.
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