Hawksbill Turtle of Costa Rica

Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Habitat: mainly coral reefs of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans, but also mangrove swamps, such as in the Golfo Dulce, as well as the open ocean. The primary nesting beach in Costa Rica is Tortugero.

Weight: 80kg (180lb)

Length: 1m (3ft)

Physical appearance: sharp, hooked beak, like that of a hawk, its shell has 5 central and 4 lateral overlapping scutes, which gives it a saw-like appearance. The front flippers have 2 claws and the shell can change colour according to the water temperature. The hawksbill’s small body leaves asymmetric tracks in the sand from its flippers when it comes onto the beach to nest.

Diet: primarily sponges, but also crustaceans, algae, fish and jellyfish

Predators: sharks, large fish, octopuses, crocodiles and humans

Threats: the hawksbill used to be the primary source of tortoiseshell, which was used for decorative purposes. Over-fishing by humans has caused the turtle to be endangered as it gets caught in nets. Humans still poach the turtles and their eggs for human consumption.

Mating: the hawksbill lives a solitary life, but meets biannually between April – November to mate in lagoons close to nesting beaches. Once the eggs are laid, the gestation period is around 2 months before they hatch.

Lifespan: the hawksbill matures at around 20 years, although the full lifespan is still unknown


Hawksbill Turtle of the Osa Peninsula