Hawksbill Sea Turtles in Costa Rica
The Hawksbill Sea Turtle is considered critically endangered, and there are many conservation programs in Costa Rica to insure that they have a place to nest for years to come.
Hawksbill Sea Turtles are located mostly in the tropical range along the longitudinal lines of 30°N to 30°S. In the north they may be found a little farther north and vice versa in the south, but they cannot tolerate low temperatures very well. Hawksbills inhabit coral reefs, mangrove swamps, lagoons, oceans and beaches. When looking for their nesting sites in Costa Rica, you should look to Playa Caletas, Punta Banco, Playa Dominical, Tortuguero National Park, Cahuita National Park and Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge.
Mating & Reproduction
Hawksbill Sea Turtles seem to have a two year cycle in terms of mating. Mating seasons vary depending on the area of the world that Hawksbills are located, but in the Atlantic it tends to be from April to November. The females then make the trek into nesting beaches of the Caribbean, and they often lay a clutch size of around 140 eggs at night. The moon is big indicator of good conditions for nesting for these turtles and other sea turtles.
Hatchlings usually show up around two weeks after being laid. At birth, Hawksbill Sea Turtles are about 2.5 cm long. If they emerge in the day, they are often preyed upon by seabirds and crabs. They stand a better chance of survival if they head for the sea at night, and the moon helps to light their way.
Hawksbill Sea Turtles are omnivorous, and may consume sea sponges (a majority of their diet), algae, cnidarians, jellyfish and sea anemones. They have few natural predators due to their hard-shelled carapace. Of the few predators that they do have there are crocodiles, sharks, octopi and certain fish of the pelagic zone.
It is believed that Hawksbills evolved from carnivorous ancestors, but that is not clear. The fact that Hawksbill Sea Turtles are primarily spongivorous makes them unique among sea turtles, and this may put them in a different category from the more carnivorous sea turtle species.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: Playa Caletas, Punta Banco, Playa Dominical, Tortuguero National Park, Cahuita National Park, Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge
Diet: sea sponges, algae, cnidarians, jellyfish, sea anemones
Migration Pattern: various between nesting and feeding sites
Habitat: coral reefs, mangrove swamps, lagoons, ocean, beaches
Size: length=70-95 cm weight=80-200 kg
Species: Eretmochelys imbricata