Name: Hawksbill Sea Turtles
Average Weight: 100 - 150 pounds
Average Size: 30 to 35 inches
Lifespan in the Wild: 30 - 50 years
IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
Population: It is estimated that there are fewer than 25,000 nesting females around the world.
General Information: The Hawksbill Sea Turtle is considered one of the most beautiful species of sea turtle to grace our oceans. They get their name from their appearance, they have a narrow head and sharp, bird-like beak. These beaks are used to pry food from small crevices in the coral reefs where they live.
As these sea turtles thrive and live around reefs they typically feed on sponges. This makes them a critical part of the reefs eco system as they remove the sponge from the reef making it easier for fish to feed. They are omnivorous so also will feed on other creatures such as crustaceans, fish, mollusk, sea urchins, jellyfish and algae.
Nesting Behaviours & Reproduction:
Hawksbill turtles travel massive distances from their feeding sites to nesting sites. They will make the incredible migration from the reefs that they prefer to feed on all the way to the tropical beaches that they typically nest on.
Their mating season usually occurs every 2 to 3 years in the shallow waters. After the mother sea turtle will find her spot on the beach and begin to prepare her nest. She digs a pit in the sand and then will fill it with eggs before covering them with sand. They will nest roughly 4 times per season with 2 week intervals, on average there will be around 140 eggs per nest, but it is worth noting that some nests will have over 200 eggs!
The mother turtle will then return to the ocean and the eggs will hatch in 60 days. Then the hatchlings journey will begin to the sea.
Habitat & Range:
Found throughout the tropical oceans, usually the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Hawksbill turtles tend to avoid deep open waters and prefer to spend their time on the coastlines and coral reefs where they can easily feed.
Threats To The Species:
As is the case with most sea turtle species the hawksbill sea turtle has a declining population, and they are considered critically endangered. In the last century their population has declined by 80%. It was estimated that between 1950 and 1992 about 1.4 million of these sea turtles were taken from the wild.
The tortoiseshell trade is by far one of the biggest threats to hawksbill sea turtles. Their stunning shell patterns makes them the target for international trade. The shells are used for ornaments, jewelry, brushes, combs, furniture and inlays. Trade on their shells is no illegal, but despite this there is, unfortunately, a thriving black market for the shells still.
Bycatch & Destructive Fishing Methods:
As with many sea turtle species they face the risk of bycatch in fishing nets. There are turtle excluder devices available that can be used to help prevent sea turtles, such as hawksbill, avoid being victims of bycatch. Destructive fishing methods such as dynamite fishing also poses a risk. Dynamite fishing is a method of stunning or killing fish using explosives and it can do terrible damage to corals reefs and sea life that are nearby.
If the above mentioned wasn't enough then they also face plastic pollution & chemical, coastal development, boat strikes and egg harvesting. Around the world their eggs are tragically still eaten around the world.
Too Rare To Wear
We are partnered with the Billion Baby Turtle program to reach our goal of rescuing 50,000 sea turtle hatchlings. They have a second campaign that they are running called Too Rare To Wear which is all about raising awareness for the hawksbill sea turtle and protecting them from the tortoiseshell trade.
Here's how you can help too and do your part in the fight against tortoiseshell:
Sign The Pledge - Make a pledge to to shop carefully at souvenir shops and look for and avoid any products made of turtleshell.
Report Tortoiseshell/ Turtleshell Sales - If you are on holiday, looking around souvenirs shops or online and spot that they are potentially selling tortoiseshell accessories or anything made using turtles shells then you can go to this link and see their guide to recognising real or fake turtleshell. You can also report anything that you think is suspicious.
Want to join us on our campaign to save 50,000 Baby Sea Turtles?
Grab yourself a Turtle Rescue Bracelet for just $1! Every bracelet sold saves a baby sea turtle through our partnership with the Billion Baby Turtle Project.
So far in our campaign we have been able to rescue over 22,000 sea turtle hatchlings and with your support we can save even more!!
Click the link or image below to claim yours today.