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What Do You Know About Hawksbill Turtles?

What Do You Know About Hawksbill Turtles?

Hawksbills are named after their pointed, narrow beak. On their shells, they have a characteristic pattern of overlapping scales that produce a serrated edge. These colorful and patterned shells are highly valued and are usually sold in marketplaces as "tortoiseshell."

Hawksbill turtles can be found mainly in the tropical oceans, mostly in coral reefs. They devour sponges, which they pull from cracks in the reef with their narrow pointed beaks, but they also feed sea anemones & jellyfish. Sea turtles are live representatives of a species of reptiles that have existed on Earth for the past hundred million years and have sailed our oceans. They play an important role in improving the balance of coral reefs or seagrass beds in marine habitats.

Diet and habitat

Hawksbill turtles can be found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean's tropical waters. They eschew deep waters in favor of coastal areas with plenty of sponges to eat and sandy nesting places. These migratory reptiles aid in the preservation of a sustainable coral reef habitat. Mollusks, crabs, fish, sea urchins, marine algae, and jellyfish are all eaten by hawksbills. Their strong shells defend them from several predators, although giant fish, crocodiles, sharks, octopuses, and humans still prey on them.


Like other sea turtles, Hawksbill sea turtles make remarkable migrations from feeding grounds to nesting grounds, which are usually on tropical beaches. Female hawksbills travel to the beaches where they were born every three to four years to lay their eggs, which they do in shallow seas near the shore.

When the turtles depart the sea to find a suitable location for their eggs, the nesting process begins. They make a hole in the sand, load it with 130 - 160 eggs, and then cover it with sand. The turtles will go to the water at this point, leaving the eggs that will hatch in around 60 days. When hatchlings make the trek from their nests to the sea, it is the most dangerous time of their lives. During this short scurry, crabs and swarms of gulls hunt on the newborn turtles.


Hawksbill sea turtles, like many other sea turtles, are critically endangered owing to human activity. Humans have valued tortoise shells since ancient Egypt, and hawksbills are no different, with their magnificent shells: the International Union for Conservation of Nature believes that millions of hawksbills have been killed for the tortoiseshell trade in the last hundred years. Even though the international legal commerce in hawksbill shells halted in 1993, trade continues.


Advocates are also seeking to designate hawksbill turtle habitats as marine sanctuaries and aquatic preserves, while researchers like Photo Ark EDGE Fellow Daniel Arauz collect data on hawksbill populations to assist increase awareness of local communities and improve conservation methods.


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