Hawksbill sea turtle – Eretmochelys imbricata

hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata scuba diving canary islands atlantic tenerife gran canaria fuerteventura lanzarote la palma gomera el hierro
Hawksbill sea turtle – Eretmochelys imbricata

The Hawksbill sea turtle is a species of the sea turtle family and therefore belongs to the order of the Testudines. Eretmochelys imbricata is called Hawksbill, which is due to the similarity of the head to that of a raptor.

Description, Anatomy & Characteristics

The shell of the hawksbill turtle is up to 114cm long and weighs about 75kg on the scales. The maximum weight, however, is 127kg.

Eretmochelys imbricata has a yellow to beige back with a brown to black pattern. However, the belly part of the carapace is exclusively brightly coloured.

Its elongated head, which possesses a very crooked, pointed beak, is striking, in contrast to other species.

It also has two claws on its front flippers.

Habitat, Distribution & Occurrence

Eretmochelys imbricata lives in open water, small caves and overhangs, estuaries and even in mangrove swamps. It seems, however, that they prefer shallow coral reefs.

When scuba diving on the Canary Islands it is rather rare.

The hawksbill sea turtle can be found in all tropical and subtropical seas and oceans worldwide. This also includes the Mediterranean Sea. On Wikipedia there is a map of the distribution area with important nesting places.

Feeding & Biology

The hawksbill sea turtles on sponges, jellyfish, molluscs, cnidarians, algae and anthozoa. Some of them are very poisonous to humans.

They are estimated to live between 30 and 40 years.

Especially the young animals have predators which include various nest predators. Adult animals are only hunted by large animals, such as sharks.

Eretmochelys imbricata are solitary animals, i.e. individually living sea turtles. They come together exclusively for reproduction.

They are active during the day and rest at night.


It is estimated that the hawksbill sea turtle reaches sexual maturity between 10 and 20 years. Reproduction in the Atlantic is from April to November, with mating taking place only every 2 years. The females lay their eggs on the beach at night, above the tidal line. In addition, they dig holes with its rear fins. A nest contains an average of 140 eggs. The babies hatch after about two months, weigh 24g, are 2.5cm long and black in colour.

hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata scuba diving canary islands atlantic tenerife gran canaria fuerteventura lanzarote babies el hierro la palma gomera

You can find nests of Eretmochelys imbricata on beaches of 60 countries worldwide. Among the most important nesting sites are the beaches of Mexico, the Seychelles, Indonesia and Australia.

Sources & Links




Related Posts