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Hawksbill Sea Turtles: an Amazing Sea Creature in Peril

Updated on November 23, 2014

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?

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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

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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

National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles
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

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!


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.


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

Hawksbill Sea Turtle Stamp

Hawksbill Sea Turtle Rubber Stamp
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Rubber Stamp

Perfect for the scrapbooker or teacher who loves turtles!


What do you think about Hawksbill Sea Turtles?

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      What fantastic information - a really enjoyable read. I am trying to set up a project in Nicaragua to help and save the turtles there. One of the greatest dangers here is the capture of turtles and their eggs for food as it is part of the cuisine. We have only just started this interesting and hopefully beneficial adventure for the turtles here.

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 

      4 years ago from Jackson, MS

      except for the beak (which I presume is where they get their name) they look a lot like the Loggerhead, but from the description I take it they are quite a bit smaller. Thanks for introducing me to them. They are really interesting!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Just stopping back by to leave you a blessing. Thank you, once again, for your feature of this amazing creature that deserves our care and attention. Congrats on your Purple Star! **Blessed**

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great information here. Thanks for sharing.

    • TheGourmetCoffe profile image


      7 years ago

      100% in agreement with you about the need to support wildlife preservation efforts, all species, and agree turtles deserve special attention. They are such unique and invaluable creatures to the natural balance. Magnificent too! Really enjoyed your lens.

    • efriedman profile image


      7 years ago

      Well done. I will feature a link to your lens on my Brown Pelicans lens

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      This is a wonderful lense on an import conservation topic. Thank you for sharing, and congratulations on the Purple Star!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      this is a like national geographic squid lens! impressive and informative :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens. Very interesting, I am really learning some things from your lens.

    • Brandi Bush profile image


      7 years ago from Maryland

      What a nice lens! We used to live in Satellite Beach, FL and we had to put special lightbulbs in our porch lights during sea turtle mating season. We would see the nests frequently on the beach, but one day we actually saw a mama laying her eggs. We stayed back a bit and watched her...I'll never forget it. Congrats on your purple star!

    • studyaids profile image

      Steve Jones 

      7 years ago from Birmingham UK

      A truly wonderful lens.

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 

      7 years ago from Jackson, MS

      I love these guys! (I kinda look like 'em too.... lol) and I'm a huge fan of Sea Shepherds! Congrats on Purple star feature lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A beautifully done presentation on the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, it would be a sad day if we lose them. I especially enjoyed watching the video of mama turtle laying her eggs. Congratulations on you purple star!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      7 years ago from Vermont

      Interesting and informative sea turtle lens ... you've inspired my next coloring page drawing.

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 

      7 years ago

      I am an environmentalist and I think this is part of our shame. We need to point out to the powers that be, (those in control) that we are losing natural resources and wildlife at an alarming rate. Imagine that a turtle of this type, could live a century. See you around the galaxy...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I like turtles

    • imolaK profile image


      7 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this interesting lens. Blessed!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      As one who is passionate about wildlife conservation and sea turtles, I very much appreciate this informative lens about the Hawksbill. I appreciate your efforts to educate the public regarding the need to support efforts to protect these turtles. Thank you!

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Just saw some turtles in pools in Fiji (I'm pretty sure they were Hawksbills). The babies were adorable and the adults beautiful.

      Just a tip - it's better to use pictures that you have the right to use. There's some really good ones on Zazzle you could link to (and maybe get a commission off). Or check out some of the ones turning up in the Flickr module.

    • smithlights profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Very well written with awesome content!


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