Hawksbill Turtle

hawksbill turtle resting on the reef baa atoll maldives

A Hawksbill turtle resting on a reef in Baa Atoll, Maldives.
© Lauren Arthur

The Hawksbill turtle gets its name from its sharp lower jaw. The Hawksbill is one of the smallest species of sea turtles and Indian Ocean Hawksbill turtles tend to be smaller than those in the Pacific and Atlantic, with females measuring 70 cm and weighing 44 kg, on average.

Hawksbill turtles reach adulthood around 30 years of age; their life span remains unknown.

The Hawksbill’s slim head and sharp jaw allow them to hunt in crevices in coral reefs. They feed mainly on sponges, but anemones, soft corals, urchins, jellyfish, squid, and shrimp are also in their diet. Hawksbills are very loyal to their foraging sites and tend to stay on their “home reef”.

The Hawksbill turtle is listed as Critically Endangered (the last category before “Extinct”). Hawksbill populations have declined globally by over 80% during the last century primarily due to the trade in their shells.

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