Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia
  

 

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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Hawksbill Turtle
   
   

Family : CHELONIIDAE
Species : Eretmochelys imbricata
Maximum carapace length : 90 cm

One of the smaller sea turtles, the Hawksbill Turtle mainly inhabits near-shore coral reefs which fringe tropical islands. Its main food source is soft sponges which are a key part of the coral reef ecosystem.

Its main identifying feature is the posterior edge of the carapace, which is serrated (see Fig 1). Also, the costal scutes (i.e. the shell plates which lie one row inwards from the edge of the carapace) are overlapping.

As with other sea turtles, its eggs are laid in holes dug by the female on isolated sandy beaches. Up to 250 eggs may be laid at one time. The species has been hunted to extinction in many areas for its attractive 'tortoise-shell', which is fashioned into combs, jewellery and other items.

The Hawksbill Turtle can be found in clear, tropical waters throughout Southeast Asia.


Fig 1 : Adult Hawksbill Turtle in the Red Sea. Photo thanks to Ian Prothero

Figs 2 and 3 : Hawksbill Turtle digging its nest in soft sand on a popular beach on Singapore Island in May 2020. At the time, the Covid-19 virus lockdown was in place, and the beach was closed to the public.  Photos thanks to NParks.

Fig 4 : In 2006 these hatchlings were found on a beach in the east coast area of Singapore.  Photo thanks to Sivasothi.


References : H1


 

Fig 1
 
ゥ  Ian Prothero
Fig 2
 
ゥ  NParks
Fig 3
  
ゥ  NParks
Fig 4
 
ゥ  Sivasothi