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Hawksbill Sea Turtles: an Amazing Sea Creature in Peril
These Magnificent Ocean Creatures are in Great Danger!
Welcome to this site that is all about Sea Turtles, and more specifically Hawksbill Sea Turtles. There are very few Hawksbill Sea Turtles left in the world due to hunting, habitat destruction, and commercial fishing. They are on endangered lists around the world but are still declining in numbers. Learn more about Hawskbill Sea Turtle's habitats, diets, dangers and reproduction. I also have some ideas on things you can do to help protect these animals.
Why do I love Sea Turtles so much? I remember the first time I saw a Hawksbill Sea Turtle when scuba diving: it was love at first sight. They look so awkward but are graceful swimmers, able to achieve great speeds with amazing endurance. My favorite thing is to watch them dig their beak-like mouths into the coral in search of food. By the time the other divers in my group are ready to move on and check out something else, I'm never ready to go!
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Appearance
Out of the 7 sea turtles, the Hawksbill Turtle is one of the smallest, weighing between 45-70 kg. They have a narrow head with 2 pairs of scale in front of their eyes. The distinctive heart-shaped shell is bony, with overlapping scales but has no ridges. Its coloring is dark to golden brown with streaks of orange, red, or black. The bottom of the shell is yellow. Unique among Sea Turtles, the flippers have 2 claws on them.
They are named for their distinctive beak-like mouth, which assists them in reaching into holes and crevices in coral reefs to find food.
Basic Information about Hawksbill Sea Turtles
Have you seen a sea turtle in the wild?
A Hawksbill Sea Turtle in the Caymans
What distinguishes Hawksbill Sea Turtles from other Sea Turtles?
There are 4 distinctive features about Hawksbill Sea Turtles:
1. The beak-shaped mouth.
2. Their heads with pre-frontal scales
3. Claws on their fore-limbs
4. Scales on their shells
Are you concerned about Sea Turtle Extinction?
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Diet
Due to the beak-like shape of the Hawksbill Turtle's mouth, they are able to reach into small crevices and holes in coral reefs to get sponges, anemones, crab, coral and shrimp. In the open water, they often feed on Jellyfish.
National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles
Introduce your kids to these beautiful creatures.
Hawksbill Sea Turtles Habitat and Range
Of all the sea turtles, the Hawksbill is the one that most prefers warm water and can be found in tropical and subtropical waters in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They live around coastal reefs, rocky areas, estuaries and lagoons. They predominantly nest around Central America, the Caribbean and Australia but have some sites on the East side of Africa in the Indian Ocean.
Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide
Perfect for the turtle lover.
Hawskbill Sea Turtle Laying Eggs
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Reproduction
Hawksbill Sea Turtles Mating occurs every 2-3 years, in shallow lagoons, most often just off the beach where the female was born. It's not known whether Sea Turtles have life-long partners, or change partners every year, but males lie in wait for females to return to nest and fertilization of the eggs occur. Then the females leave the sea and select a site to lay their eggs, in which they dig a pit and deposit 120-150 eggs. They then conceal the eggs with sand and return to the sea. They will do this every 14-16 days during the nesting season for a total of 3-5 times.
After about 60 days, the eggs hatch under the cover of darkness, with the babies weighing less than on ounce. They instinctively go to the water, and it's thought that many die in this perilous journey. The parents have no involvement beyond fertilizing and laying the eggs. If the hatchlings survive the first few years of life, they have a good chance to live 30-50 years.
Baby Sea Turtles are so cute!
More Reading on the Status of Hawksbill Sea Turtles
Are Hawksbill Sea Turtles Endangered or Threatened?
Hawksbill Sea Turtles are definitely a species in peril. It's estimated that there are only 22 900 nesting, egg-laying female turtles. They are listed as endangered in the USA and critically endangered internationally. They are in immediate danger of extinction.
They main threat against them is the demand for their shells, which in some countries is used for hair ornaments, and jewelry, as well as their eggs and meat. They are also declining in numbers due to loss of their marine habitat including coral reefs and nesting beaches. Turtles are susceptible to being caught in fishing nets, and drowning due to not being able to reach the surface quickly enough to breathe.
Volunteer to Help Sea Turtles on your Vacation
Ways to Protect Hawskill Sea Turtles
(and other sea turtles too!)
-Donate: Find charities that protect and rehabilitate sea turtles.
-Buy Eco-Friendly Seafood: Ask questions before you buy. Find out how the seafood was caught. Check to make sure your shrimp was caught with nets using "TED" (turtle exclusion device).
-Use Less Plastic: shop at farmer's market, bring your own reusable bags to stores, and don't drink bottled water or soda, repair instead of replacing things.
-Pick up fishing lines: marine animals get caught in them and they take hundreds of years to biodegrade.
-Use a map when boating: avoid sea grass beds when boating.
-Write your local politician: ask your legislator to help pass regulations to protect sea turtles.
Sea Turtle Pewter Pendant with necklace
Love turtles? Show it off!
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Stamp
Perfect for the scrapbooker or teacher who loves turtles!