Creature feature – Hawksbill turtle
Hawksbill turtle endangered species
The beautiful Hawksbill turtle can be seen if you dive around the wonderful island of Bali especially in Padang Bai, getting its name from its narrow and sharp « beak ».
It is part of a group of reptiles that have existed on Earth for the last 100 million years.
You can easily recognise it by its flattened body shape, a protective carapace with serrated-look on the edges and its color is an irregular combination of light and dark streaks, with predominant black and mottled-brown colors.
Its flipper-like limbs allow it to swim in open tropical ocean but also in lagoons, on shallow coral reefs, rocky areas, mangroves, oceanic islands and shallow coastal areas.
It’s one of the smallest turtles as it weight from 45 to 90 kg and height from 50 cm to 1 m, and it can live up to 50 years.
The Hawksbill turtle is omnivore and its favorite food is the sea sponges, that it can easily extract from crevices with its hooked “beak”, but it also eat anemones, jellyfish and algae.
It’s a highly migratory species, the female goes back every two years to the place it was born to nest.
To nest, the female goes to the beach, finds a secluded place, lays its eggs (up to 140) and buries them in the sand.
Unfortunately, most of the new born turtles wont have the chance to make it to the ocean, indeed lots of predators dig the beach and eat the eggs, and other will attack the babies on their way to the ocean.
But as it gets to adult, it becomes bigger and its carapace get stronger, so the number of predators decrease.
The biggest danger of the Hawsksbill turtle is the human in it’s hunt for decorative tortoiseshell materials for the jewellery trade. It is also victim of the long line fishing and the deterioration of the oceans and beaches by the human pollution.
That is why IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as now classified this species as critically endangered, and CITES ( Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) as prohibited their trade.
We are lucky to have Hawksbill turtles on many of our dive sites, this one was taken by Uwe Jacobs in Nusa penida island.
Check our daily dive trips !