Mating occurs roughly every 2 to 3 years. It occurs mainly in shallow waters. No information is available as to whether or not these turtles have life-long partners or are promiscuous.
Copulation usually begins in shallow water near the shore. Males lie and wait in the shallow water for the females to return. At times, males have been seen following the females on shore. However, this behavior is rarely observed.
The entire nesting process takes roughly one to three hours. It involves similar steps as most other species of sea turtles. The turtles come out of the sea and select a site in which to lay their eggs. They then clear the area and dig a pit in the sand. Next they lay their eggs and then proceed to fill in the pit in with their hind limbs. After the site is disguised, the turtles return to the sea.
Breeding interval: The females lay three clutches a year at an interval of roughly thirteen to fifteen days.
Breeding season: Nesting generally occurs between July and October.
Average number of offspring: 140.
Average gestation period: 60 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3 years.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 1277 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 1277 days.
After laying the eggs on the beach, the females retreat into the water. After about 60 days, the eggs hatch, and the newborn turtles make a perilous dash for the water where they will mature.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement
- Pope, C. H. 1939. Turtles of the United States & Canada. New York: Alfred A Knopf.
- Ernst, C., J. Lovich, R. Barbour. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 2003. "Atlantic Hawksbill Sea Turtle Fact Sheet" (On-line ). Accessed 03/21/03 at http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/endspec/athafs.html.