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Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)



Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Order: Testudines, Family: Cheloniidae

The hawksbill sea turtle is the only sea turtle with overlapping scales. They have two pairs of prefrontal plates between their eyes. The hawksbills shell varies in color, from black-brown, red-brown to yellow. Their undersides are usually white or yellow. Adults are about 24 to 38 inches in length and weigh anywhere from 60 to 190 pounds.



I. DESCRIPTION:

  • The hawksbill sea turtle is the only sea turtle with overlapping scales.
  • They have two pairs of prefrontal plates between their eyes.
  • The hawksbills shell varies in color, from black-brown, red-brown to yellow. Their undersides are usually white or yellow.
  • Adults are about 24 to 38 inches in length and weigh anywhere from 60 to 190 pounds.
II. GEOGRAPHIC RANGE AND HABITAT:
  • The hawksbill sea turtle is found all over the wold, from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean seas. In the Indian ocean as well as the Pacific and Persian Gulf.
  • They prefer a warm, coastal water with abundant vegetation. Bays, inlets and lagoons are favorite habitats.
III. DIET:
  • The hawksbill turtle is an omnivore and eats mainly on sea grasses, corals, jellyfish, sea urchins and algae.
  • This turtle will sometimes consume the dead remains of marine creatures.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
  • When turtles weigh about 80 pounds, they are sexually mature.
  • Female turtles typically return to the same nesting beaches every year. The beach must be clean and remote to attract a nesting female.
  • Females lay between 70 and 160 eggs that hatch in about 60 days. Once hatched the little turtles make their way to the water where they will stay for about a year.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
  • Hawksbill turtles are protected in the U.S. under the Endangered Species Act.
  • These turtles faced other problems though in other parts of the world, where they were sold for their meat and eggs. This is now illegal since recent studies suggested that the meat could be poisonous and cause illness. They are still sold for the use of leather, perfume, jewelry and other cosmetics.
  • The hawksbill sea turtle is endangered. The reason for the extinction of the hawksbill is the growing number of eggs that are stolen each year. It is illegal in most countries to steal these eggs and many countries have set up reserves for the turtles to breed successfully.



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