Eretmochelys imbricata (Linnaeus, 1766)
Hawksbill turtle
photo by www.tropicalfavourites.com

Family:  Cheloniidae (sea turtles)
Max. size:  90 cm CL (male/unsexed); max.weight: 120 kg
Environment:  reef-associated; brackish; marine; depth range 0 - 300 m
Distribution:  Indo-Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean.
Diagnosis:  Carapace in adults: cardiform or elliptical; with imbricated dorsal scutes. Head: medium-sized; narrow; with a pointed beak; 2 pairs of prefrontal and 3 or 4 postorbital scales; tomium not serrated on the cutting edge; but hooked at the tip. Snout: narrow; elongated. Carapace scutes: thick for coping with waves; to obtain food from between corals and rocky substrates. Scutes: strongly imbricated at maturity. Scutelation of the carapace: similar to Chelonia, with 5 costal; 4 pairs of lateral (the first not touching the precentral scute); 11 pairs of marginal plus one pair of postcentral or pigal scutes. Plastron: covered by 5 pairs of scutes; plus one or two intergular; at times 1 small interanal. There are 4 poreless inframarginal scutes covering each bridge. Each rear and fore flipper bears 2 claws on its anterior border. Males: stronger, more curved claws and longer tails than females. Hatchlings and juveniles: wider carapace than adults. Carapace have 3 keels of spines which disappear with growth. Young adults: sometimes have a remnant of the dorsal central keel; without spines. In juveniles and subadults: scutes of the carapace are indented on the rear third of the carapace margin. Color: most colorful among sea turtles. In Eastern Pacific, pattern shows from very bright colors to the heavy melanistic forms. Scales of the head: creamy or yellow margins; more apparent at the sides or cheeks than on the roof. Carapace color: in spots or stripes; of the complementary colors: brown; red; black and yellow. Color spots and stripes: arranged in a fan-like pattern. Scutes underneath are thin and amber-colored; in juveniles, brown spots in the rear part of each scute. Head and flippers dorsal side: darker and less variable; in eastern Pacific population, the coloration is sometimes nearly black. Hatchlings: more homogeneous in color. At the rear part of the carapace, mostly brown with paler blotches on the scutes; and, also small pale spots on the 'tip' of each scute along the 2 keels of the plastron.
Biology:  The most tropical of all sea turtles living in littoral waters. Turtles measuring up to 10 cm straight carapace length are usually nektonic animal. A carnivorous turtle commonly poking in crevices between rocks and corals; it becomes a regular inhabitant of hard substrata, i.e., corals, tunicates, algae and sponges. The duration of incubation lasts 47 to 75 days but varies depending on place and time. It is a high valued species in the international market (Ref. 1397). Most often seen in shallow waters around reefs, bays, and inlets (Ref. 122680). Turtles measuring up to 10 cm straight carapace length are usually nektonic animal. It changes to benthic feeding when it approaches coastal areas. This is a carnivorous turtle commonly poking in crevices between rocks and corals. It feeds on algae, ascidians, sponges, bryozoans, molluscs, hydroids, barnacles, cephalopods, salps, and seagrasses (Ref. 97534). It becomes a regular inhabitant of hard substrata, i.e., corals, tunicates, algae and sponges (Ref. 417). Associated with reef fishes (Ref. 104964) and a shrimp (Ref. 104967).
IUCN Red List Status: Critically Endangered (CR); Date assessed: 30 June 2008 (A2bd) Ref. 123251)
Threat to humans: 
Country info:   
 

Entered by: Dar, Christine - 11.12.05
Modified by: Polido, Rubyann Robelle - 28.10.15

Source and more info: www.sealifebase.org. For personal, classroom, and other internal use only. Not for publication.


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