Hawksbill Sea Turtle

This week species is in honor of “Jklynn”, the female Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) that Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is currently tracking and Bonaire children are predicting where she will migrate to in the Great Migration Game.

The Hawksbill is one of the five sea turtle species found within the Dutch Caribbean. Unlike any other sea turtle, the Hawksbill has two claws on each front flipper. It is easily identified by the overlapping scutes of its carapace, as well as its hawk-like beak from which it gets its common name. This beak enables the Hawksbill to reach into holes and crevices to find sponges, its main food source. In fact, it is estimated that adult Hawksbills within the Caribbean consume on average 544 kg (~1199 lbs) of sponges a year! Its love of sponges means that the Hawksbill is never far from coral reefs, as well as being a frequent visitor to seagrass beds and shallow lagoons. Hawksbills are also known to nest on our islands’ beaches.

Sadly, the Hawksbill is one of many species whose population has drastically declined in the past decades as a direct result of human action. Now listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, it is at high risk from a long list of threats, including harvest for its meat, eggs and shell; accidental capture in fishing gear; marine pollution and debris; as well as degradation of its nesting, nursery and foraging grounds.

While certain Caribbean Islands still allow some form of exploitation of this endangered sea turtle, our islands have been at the forefront of its protection. The Hawksbill is now fully protected by law within the Dutch Caribbean. Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, and other NGOs are working hard towards the protection and recovery of Hawksbills through monitoring, rescue and cleanups efforts as well as public outreach.

Because Hawksbills are highly migratory, the Dutch Caribbean recognizes the need for international and regional initiatives and is party to a number of international treaties and conventions such as the Convention on Migratory Species and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles.


STCB. (Video also from STCB)