Young hawksbill turtles have a heart-shaped carapace. As these turtles mature, their carapaces becomes more elongated. In all of the hawksbill turtles, with the exception of very old individuals, the lateral and posterior areas of the carapace are serrated. The heads of hawksbill turtles taper into a V shape, giving them the appearance of birds' beaks.
Eretmochelys imbricata have 5 features that distinguish them from other sea turtles. Their heads have two pairs of prefrontal scales. They also have two claws on each of their forelimbs. There are thick, overlapping scutes on their carapaces, which also have four pairs of costal scutes. Their elongate mouths resemble a beak, that taper off to a sharp point at the end.
Hawksbill turtles are relatively small sea turtles. Nesting females average a length of 87 centimeters in curved carapace length and weigh 80 kilograms. The average hatchling Eretmochelys imbricata in the parts of the Caribbean owned by the United States is about 42 millimeters in straight carapace length and weighs 13.5 to 19.5 grams. Male turtles are distinguished by a brighter pigmentation, a concave plastron, long claws, and a thicker tail.
Range mass: 35.7 to 127 g.
Average mass: 80 g.
Range length: 62.5 to 114 cm.
Average length: 87 cm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male more colorful; sexes shaped differently
- Ernst, C., J. Lovich, R. Barbour. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Turtle Trax. 1999. "The Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)" (On-line ). Accessed 03/16/03 at http://www.turtles.org/hawksd.htm.