|HAWKSBILL TURTLE (Eretmochelys imbricata)
These turtles are not the biggest sea turtles, but their shells can still grow up to 45 inches (114 centimeters) and they can weigh over 150 pounds(68 kilograms). They are found in tropical waters of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, but not too far offshore. They travel thousands of miles to nest and have been seen nesting as far north as Massachusetts, USA. For feeding, however, they prefer the coral reefs in shallower tropical waters because they eat mainly sponges which live there. Sponges, crustaceans, algae, fish and jellyfish make up this omnivore’s diet.
Females lay their eggs on the beach and cover them with sand. She will only lay eggs once every two or three years. After about 60 days, they hatch and the baby turtles start their journey across a beach full of dangers, from seagulls to crabs, into the water which is also wrought with predators. Newly born sea turtles begin their lives in a pelagic stage, where they swim near the surface of the water, and can submerge, but do not go to the bottom. They will remain in this phase for up to 4 years or until they are about 20 cm long. Then, they graduate to the benthic stage, when they are able to dive down to the sea bottom for longer periods of time. Finally, they begin the reproductive phase of their lives, when they migrate annually to nest. Hawksbills can live as long as 50 years. Some scientists believe that either magnetic fields or lunar phases or positions may help these turtles make their long journeys between nesting sites and feeding sites every year.
Although they are eaten by sharks, octopi, and other fish, their biggest threat is mankind. Their eggs are eaten by people, their shells are sold, they are accidentally killed in fishing nets, and their habitat is being destroyed.