Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hawksbill, Eretmochelys imbricata (Family Cheloniidae)

These turtles do not commonly nest on the beaches of Trinidad and Tobago. But they can be seen foraging in coastal waters. Their head is elongated and tapers to a point, with a beak-like mouth, hence the common name. The shape of the mouth allows the hawksbill turtle to probe holes and crevices in coral reefs to forage on sponges and other invertebrates. Hawksbill turtles are the only marine turtles to have have two pairs of prefrontal scales the flippers usually has two claws. Male hawksbills mature about 70 cm. Females mature at about 80 cm. Female to their natal beaches every 2-3 years to nest. They usually nest high on the beach under or in the dune vegetation. During the breeding season females lay eggs every 14-16. Usually nesting occurs between April and November. A female hawksbill generally lays 3-5 nests per season, which contain an average of 130 eggs. The eggs incubate for about two months. Neonates are likely pelagic, floating in algal mats and drift lines of flotsam and jetsam in the Atlantic. Hawksbills rest on ledges in caves of coral reefs and use the same resting spot for periods of time.

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