Hawksbill

Named for its sharp, pointed beak, the hawksbill feeds primarily on reef sponges, invertebrate organisms whose bodies contain tiny indigestible glass needles. The hawksbill has a beautiful, translucent shell, which has long been exploited for use in tortoiseshell jewelry. Though international trade of tortoiseshell has been prohibited, illegal trafficking continues.

Scientific name

Eretmochelys imbricata

Status

Critically Endangered

Distribution

  • Circumglobal

  • Nesting areas in tropics,

  • Non-nesting range is generally restricted to tropical regions, although during immature stages it extends to sub-tropical regions

SWOT MAPS


Size

ADULTS

  • Length 75-90 cm

  • Mass up to 150 kg

HATCHLINGS

  • Length approximately 30 mm

  • Mass approximately 5 g

Diet

Large juveniles and adults predominantly eat sponges and other sessile invertebrates associated with coral reefs and rocky reefs

Reproduction

  • Reproduce every 2-4 years

  • Lay 2-5 clutches of eggs per season

  • Lay 120-200 eggs per clutch

  • Ping-pong ball size eggs with approximately 25-30

  • Incubation period is approximately 60 days long

Facts

  • Hawksbills are the only marine consumer whose diet predominantly comprises sponges, and thus play a major role in tropical, coral reef ecosystems

  • Hawksbills commonly nest within beach vegetation on secluded, low-energy beaches

  • Hawksbills in the Eastern Pacific are probably the most endangered sea turtle population in the world.