Interesting Hawksbill Turtle Facts
Are you looking for Hawksbill Turtle Facts? Believe it or not, many people have never even heard of this incredible turtle species before. It’s really unfortunate, too, because they are now on the endangered species list. Keep reading to learn more about the hawksbill sea turtle, including interesting hawksbill turtle facts and what you can do to help them!
What is the Hawksbill Sea Turtle?
The hawksbill turtle is a specific type of sea turtle that is now an endangered species. These sea turtles were discovered in 1766 by Carl Linneaus, a Swedish zoologist, botanist, and physician. You can identify this type of turtle by its mouth, which is quite distinctive as it resembles a bird's beak. This is where their name comes from!
How are Hawksbill Turtles Endangered?
When looking into hawksbill turtle facts, one of the biggest and most important things you will note is that they are endangered. The hawksbill turtle was added to the endangered species list in 1970 and has remained on this list for more than half a century.
You might be surprised that they are going extinct as the Hawksbill turtle's life cycle includes nesting hundreds of eggs each season. They lay nests of 130 to 160 eggs 3 – 5 times a season (this could be yearly or as spread out once every 5 years). However, the eggs are not always able to complete the incubation process.
During hawksbill turtle nesting, incubation takes about 2 months; however, many non incubated eggs (and turtle hatchlings) are harvested illegally by poachers. And while they are protected under both national and international laws, poachers have not been deterred from stealing their eggs, killing live turtles and selling them to collectors.
Besides poachers and the inability to complete the incubation process, there are also many other reasons why hawksbill turtles are endangered. Some other issues they face include:
- The degradation and loss of foraging and nesting habitats.
- The loss or destruction of eggs by other predators.
- They are struck by various vessels and water vehicles at the surface or close to the surface.
- Ingesting various debris which kills or injures them.
- The warming of the ocean due to climate change can kill or damage eggs.
- Climate change also alters the amount of food available.
Climate change has also changed their migratory patterns and the nesting season.
Where do Hawksbill Turtles live?
Are you interested in learning more about the hawksbill turtles habitat? Hawksbill turtles live in tropical oceans, usually in/near coral reefs. Although global warming has changed where they specifically reside, some of their more common locations include the following:
- Buck Island
- Florida Keys
- Mona Island
- Puerto Rico
What do Hawksbill Sea Turtles Eat?
The Hawksbill sea turtle's diet consists of a few different items, but they prefer sea sponge over all else. Besides sea sponges, they will also consume small fish, jellyfish, algae, corals, crustaceans, sea urchins, tunicates, and mollusks.
How many Hawksbill Turtles Are Left?
Currently, there are only about 8,000 hawksbill turtles left in the world.
10 Hawksbill Turtle Facts
Now that you understand some basic information about the Hawksbill turtle, you might want to know some light hearted and fun hawksbill turtle facts. These 10 hawksbill turtle facts are not only interesting, but they make great bits of trivia. Some of these facts may even surprise you!
1. They Have Been Around For 100 Million Years or More
Although they were discovered in the 1700s, scientists have since discovered that they have been around for 100 million years. That is longer than the humans have around! And while they have existed for a really long time they mostly remained unchanged.
2. They Help Their Neighbors
While looking for food, they assist other fish in eating. When primarily hunting for sponges, their favorite, they break off pieces of the coral reef. This allows other fish to fit into previously too small areas to get food.
3. They are Loners.
Hawksbill Turtles travel alone and nest alone. They only meet up with other turtles for the purpose of mating.
4. They Avoid Deep Waters
The Hawksbill turtle habitat is tropical water, but they prefer the shallow area near the shore. Although they live in many different places and they migrate often, they tend to stay near the coastline. The coastline is shallow and allows them to be near nesting areas, it provides protection and is also a great source of food.
5. One Hawksbill Turtle Can Eat More Than 1,000 Pounds of Sponge Every Year
Speaking of their love of sponges! They tend to graze as they go, and over the course of a year, they can eat more than 1,000 pounds of it.
6. They Are One of The Most Endangered Species
The hawksbill turtle is one of the most endangered species globally, currently sitting at the seventh position. They are one of seventeen species that is considered critically endangered. The only species facing more extinction problems are the African forest elephant, the Amur leopard, the black rhino, the Bornean orangutan, the cross river gorilla, and the eastern lowland gorilla.
7. Adults Can Hold Their Breath For A Few Hours While Resting
Usually, the hawksbill turtle comes up for air every 15 – 30 minutes. However, when resting, they can hold their breath for 4 - 7 hours. To do this, they significantly slow their heartbeat down.
8. Their Shells Start Out Shaped Like a Heart
When they are babies, their shell starts out heart-shaped. Over time, it elongates to its permanent oval shape. The shape of the shell is one way you can guess their current age by sight.
9. Their Shells Change Colors
The color of their shell can depend on the temperature of the water they are in. In warm, tropical waters, their shell is a pretty amber color. The colder the water is, the darker their shell becomes.
10. They May be Bioluminescent
One of the newest facts about the Hawksbill turtle is that their shell may be bioluminescent. This was discovered when a diver shined an ultraviolet light on a hawksbill turtle during a dive, and it lit up.
How you can help Hawksbill Turtles
There are many different ways that you can make a difference for hawksbill turtles. You can start by making changes in your day to day life that help to combat climate change and the pollution of our oceans. Besides that, you can also volunteer your time or money to hawksbill turtle charities such as The Sea Turtle Conservancy.
Another way you can help is by purchasing our sea turtle socks, you will not only be able to rock a fabulous fashion accessory, but you will also know that 10% of your purchase will be donated to a good cause via the Sea Turtle Conservancy.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy does a lot for the Hawksbill turtles as well as other species of sea turtles. It was founded in 1959 by sea turtle expert Dr. Archie Carr with the intent to save sea turtles from extinction. They achieve this goal through scientific research, education, and working on effecting policies to protect all sea turtles worldwide.
Hopefully, by reading this article you not only learned 10 new hawksbill turtle facts, but you’ve gained more knowledge about the species and are ready to put that information to work!