Hawksbill sea turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata (Description – feeding – reproduction) – Video

Credit for the video: Glenda Vélez Calabria (Colombia)

Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Site and video channel founder)

This video was filmed at mundo marino and te mostramos lo que pasa en el fondo, Colombia

Introduction: The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) which belongs to the family Cheloniidae has a worldwide distribution and occur in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. The species is named tortue imbriquée (French), and tortuga de carey (Spanish).

Description: The hawksbill has an elongated head with a sharp and curved beak-like mouth.   Their top shell (carapace) is dark to golden brown. Their flipper-like arms are adapted for swimming in the open ocean. The species is distinguished by its saw-like appearance of its shell margins. Hawksbills have two pairs of prefrontal scales on the top of the head and each of the flippers usually has two claws. The weight of average adult ranges from 45-70 kg with an average length from 65 to 90 cm.

Feeding: Even though the hawksbills are omnivorous, sea sponges are its principal food where in some habitats, sponges constitute 70–95% of their diets. In addition to the sponges, the hawksbills may also feed on algae, invertebrates, comb jellies and other jellyfish, and sea anemones. Hawksbills are resistant to eating some of toxic sponges. The shape of the mouth allows the hawksbill turtle to reach into holes and crevices of coral reefs to find sponges and other invertebrates.

Reproduction and life history: Sexual maturity of Hawksbills is influenced by biotic and abiotic cues including individual genetics, foraging quantity and quality and/or population density, and hence the age at sexual maturation and nesting varies from as low as 10 years to as high as 30 years. Male hawksbills mature when they are about 70 cm long while females mature at about 80 cm. Even though hawksbills are solitary for most of their lives; they meet only to mate.

Hawksbills mate every 2-3 years. After mating and during the night, female turtles reach the nesting beach where she was born. The female clears an area of debris and with the help of her flippers she digs a nesting hole in which she lays an egg clutch of about 130-140 eggs and covers them with sand. Generally, a female hawksbill lays 3-5 nests per nesting season. Afterwards, the female returns to the sea.

After an incubation period of about two months, eggs –during night- hatch into baby turtles of about 15-20 g weight and 25-40 mm long. The newly hatched turtles crawl into the sea and then entering the pelagic phase that lasts for about 1 to 4 years. When juveniles reach around 35 cm, they switch from a pelagic lifestyle to the benthic phase and live on coral reefs until their sexual maturation.


Note: If you are interested to know about the threats to the Hawksbill sea turtle and conservation measures, you are kindly requested to visit this post on the site.


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