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5 things you didn't know about the hawksbill sea turtle

February 20, 2015 | Latest Photo Prev Next
Hawksbill sea turtle in the shallow waters of Eilat BayHawksbill sea turtle in the shallow waters of Eilat BayPhoto: Rich Carey / Shutterstock
February 20, 2015 | Latest Photo

The shallow waters of Eilat Bay are positively brimming with marine life. One of the most beautiful creatures that can be found in the Red Sea is the hawksbill sea turtle – and he's quite the character. Here are a few facts to celebrate this amazing animal. 

1. The hawksbill sea turtle frequents coral reefs. 

Hawksbills range throughout Earth's midsection, keeping close to coastlines as they prefer shallow waters near coral reefs where they can find food. Because they are large critters and do a lot of snacking, they often break off pieces of the coral reef, which helps other fish get their lunch, too.

2. Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered. 

These turtles have seen population declines over the course of several decades, largely due to being hunted for their meat, eggs and shells. Fortunately, many countries are stepping up and banning sea turtle hunting. Israel has a Sea Turtle Rescue Center that monitors, researches, rehabilitates and works toward the conservation of sea turtles. 

All the hard work and attention by conservationists is paying off – according to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, there are stable hawksbill populations in the Red Sea and off the coast of Australia and Yemen.

3. Hawksbill sea turtle shells change colors.

The hawksbill's shell (also called a carapace) is multicolored, and its color can vary depending on whether the turtle is in warm or cold water. 

Another fun fact about hawksbill sea turtles is that they have ... claws! If you look very closely in the photo above, you can see two claws on each of the turtle's flippers.

4. Hawksbills almost exclusively eat sponges. 

You might not think of a sea turtle as Spongebob's predator, but sponges comprise most of the hawksbill's diet. These turtles also eat jellyfish and sea anemones – that sturdy beak can sure come in handy!

5. These turtles are solitary.

Hawksbills are travelers, migrating long distances alone. They meet up with other turtles to mate every two years or so and continue their journey, living up to 50 years in the wild.

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Related Topics: Animals