Eretmochelys imbricata

Published on 21 March was a review of the literature and overview of the contemporary use of aquatic megafauna (cetaceans, sirenians, chelonians, and crocodylians) in the global tropics and subtropics, for 37 species listed on the Appendices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

22 Mar 2022

Around World Sea Turtle Day, the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU) celebrated its 20th Anniversary.

25 Jun 2021

Da Nang/Viet Nam, 24 October 2019 – The 8th Meeting of the Signatories (MOS8) to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU) concluded today after four days of intense deliberations.

24 Oct 2019

The 2nd meeting of the Northern Indian Ocean Marine Turtle Task Force (NIO-MTTF) established by the CMS IOSEA Marine Turtle MOU took place 29-30 January hosted by the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Sri Lanka in Colombo. Opened by Secretary Douglas Nanayakkara of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, the meeting’s main aim was to reach agreement on concerted regional actions to conserve marine turtles.

30 Jan 2018

Representatives and observers from 25 countries have reached agreement on a suite of measures that will strengthen efforts to conserve marine turtles in and around the Indian Ocean.

12 Sep 2014

Bonn, 12 September 2014 - Representatives and observers from 25 countries have reached agreement on a suite of measures that will strengthen efforts to conserve marine turtles in and around the Indian Ocean.

12 Sep 2014
Description: 

The hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtle is small to medium-sized compared to other sea turtle species. In the Indian Ocean region, adults weigh 45 to 70 kg, but can grow to as large as 90 kg. Female hawksbills return to their natal beaches every 2-3 years to nest. A female hawksbill may lay 3-5, or even more, nests per season, each of which contains an average of 130 eggs.

Hawksbill turtles, like other marine turtles, use different habitats at different stages of their life cycle, but this species is most commonly associated with coral reefs. Post-hatchlings (oceanic stage juveniles) are believed to occupy the pelagic environment. After a few years in the pelagic zone, small juveniles recruit to coastal foraging grounds. This shift in habitat also involves a shift in feeding strategies, from feeding primarily at the surface to feeding below the surface, primarily on animals associated with coral reef environments.  Their narrow, pointed beaks allow them to prey selectively on soft-bodied animals like sponges and soft corals.

Hawksbill turtles are circumtropical, typically occurring from 30°N to 30°S latitude. In modern times hawksbills are solitary nesters (although some scientists postulate that before their populations were devastated they may have nested on some beaches in concentrations) and, thus, determining population trends or estimates on nesting beaches is difficult. 

Although generally not found in large concentrations, hawksbills are widely distributed in the Indian Ocean. There, the largest nesting populations  – which are among the largest in the world – occur in the Seychelles, Indonesia and Australia.  Adult hawksbill turtles are capable of migrating long distances between nesting beaches and foraging areas, although the migration distances are generally not as long as those for green turtles.

Exploitation of hawksbills, primarily for their "tortoise shell" (the thick, overlapping, horny scutes that cover the shell), dates back millennia in the Indian Ocean. The shell was sought after for manufacture of diverse articles in both the Orient and Europe, and it constituted one of the most important trade commodities in a well developed trade network in the Indian Ocean. Many populations were decimated.  However decades-long protection programmes in some places, particularly at several beaches in the Indian Ocean, have resulted in population recovery. Today, interactions with fisheries are especially important in coastal fisheries where nets are used.

The preceding biological information on marine turtle species found around the Indian Ocean is derived partly from the NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources, website:(http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/turtles/), supplemented by other sources (such as a website of the Australian Government, Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts -- for information on the Flatback turtle), and additional information supplied by Dr. Jack Frazier (IOSEA Advisory Committee Chair). 

 

Assessment information
CMS InstrumentsCMS, IOSEA Marine Turtles, Atlantic Turtles
IUCN StatusCritically endangered
Date of entry in Appendix I1985
Date of entry in Appendix II1979
Geographic range
Countries Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa), Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, France, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, São Tomé and Príncipe, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen
Common names
EnglishHawksbill Turtle
FrenchTortue Imbriquée, Caret
SpanishTortuga carey
GermanEchte karettschildkröte
Taxonomy
ClassReptilia
OrderTestudinata
FamilyCheloniidae
Scientific name Eretmochelys imbricata
Author(Linnaeus, 1766)
Standard referenceEckert, K.L., Bjorndal, K.A., Abreu-Grobois, F.A. and Donnelly, M. (Eds) (1999). Research and management techniques for the conservation of sea turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publication No.4.

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Additional notesIn Effect 7/1/1999

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