Friday, November 30, 2007

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

[Originally posted to the Moorea Coral Reef LTER (MCR LTER) Marine Life Encyclopedia]

Hawksbill Sea Turtle
(Eretmochelys imbricata)

Hawksbill Sea Turtle - Eretmochelys imbricata
Photo by Gerick Bergsma
Hawksbill turtles were once widely hunted for food and for their beautiful shells (often referred to as tortoise shell), which were made into combs, eyeglass frames and jewelry.

Hawksbill turtles are found in tropical and warm temperate seas worldwide.  Like other sea turtles, hawksbills nest on tropical sandy beaches.

Primarily found on coral reefs, but also found in the open ocean, lagoons and estuaries.

Primarily sponges, but occasionally jellyfish, anemones, mollusks, crustaceans and algae.

Quick Fact
Hawksbills have peculiar feeding habits, and are able to consume food that other animals would find difficult to digest.  Many of the sponges on which they feed are highly toxic, and would be lethal to humans; others are filled with sharp, glass-like structures called spicules.  Hawksbills are even known to eat the dangerous Portuguese Man O' War (Physalia physalis), whose stinging cells are unable to penetrate the turtles' tough scales.

Learn More
- Animal Diversity Web
- Moorea Biocode Database

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