Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtle

H is for Hawksbill Turtle

The hawksbill turtle is one of 3 varieties of sea turtles (green, hawksbill, and loggerhead) that nest in Belize. The hawksbill sea turtle is a small to medium sized sea turtle, reaching 34 inches in length and 175 pounds in weight. The underneath of hawksbill turtles is a clear yellowish color while the upper shell is usually streaks of brown and black on an amber background. The upper shell is more heart shaped in young turtles, becoming elongated as the turtle ages. The hawksbill's head is elongated and tapers sharply to a point with a V-shaped lower jaw, giving it the appearance of a bird's beak. There are 2 claws on each flipper. This turtle is rated endangered. Turtles appear to glide along propelled by their flippers, but they can swim very fast when threatened. Sea turtles appear to have incredible navigational abilities, traveling between feeding sites and nesting sites that may be hundreds of miles apart.

Hawksbill turtles are found in clear offshore water habitats and near coral reef formations; they especially like reefs for feeding and resting.

Hawksbill turtles primarily feed on sponges found on reefs. They feed on only a select number of species of sponges.

These turtles live their life in the sea, but they return to sandy beaches to lay their 'eggs during particular months of the year. Individual turtles do not lay eggs every year; there is usually an interval of 1 or more years between nestings. As air-breathing reptiles covered with impermeable skin, sea turtles are one of the few marine species that are suited for terrestrial life. It is the shelled egg that demands that the turtle's nest be laid on land; if the eggs were laid in water, the air-breathing embryo would drown. Mating between the male and female takes place in the water off of the nesting beaches; little is known about the rituals of this process. Females then come onto land for the nesting process, an event that requires incredible exertion. After a long journey to land, the female sea turtle makes a long trek up the beach to lay her eggs. She chooses a well-protected area, above the high tide line, and begins the arduous process of digging the 20-inch deep nest. She will lay up to 100 eggs C!r more that will incubate for 60 days before hatchlings emerge and make the treacherous trip down the beach and to the sea. The sex of hatched sea turtles depends on the temperature to which the eggs are exposed. Both the turtle nests and the young turtles are highly susceptible to the environment and predators.

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