Tortues imbriquées à Nosy Be

Species Hawksbill turtle in Nosy Be

The Hawksbill Turtle, the only representative of the genus Eretmochelys, is a species of turtle in the family Cheloniidae. In French it is also called Tortoise with scales or Tortoise with beak of falcon. It is also locally called Karet or Carette, especially in the West Indies, Mayotte or Reunion. However, these names are confusing with the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta).

It is distinguished by several unique anatomical and ecological characters; It is easily identifiable by its thick scales posed like the tiles of a roof, by its long, narrow and hooked beak and by the two claws arranged a few centimeters from each other on the outside with mid-fins.

It lives near the coast in all tropical seas. Renowned and long sought after for the superior quality of its scales, it is for this reason one of the species of sea turtles most endangered.

When can we see hawksbill turtles in Nosy Be?
Hawksbill turtles live year-round in the reefs around Nosy Be. The best known spot to meet them is the Nosy Tanikely marine reserve, where we organize snorkelling trips.
How tall are they?
The hawksbill turtle measures between 60 and 100 cm and weighs between 43 and 75 kg, the largest specimen found was 127 cm. The eggs measure between 30 and 45 mm and weigh between 20 and 31.6 g.
What do they feed on?

The observation conditions being difficult, the feeding of turtles at sea is not very well known; it is believed that they must feed mainly on jellyfish.

In the benthic zone, and more particularly in coral reefs, they mainly consume sponges. In the Caribbean, the latter constitute 70 to 95 % of their diet and, like many spongivores, they consume only specific species of the class of Demospongiae, and more specifically those belonging to the orders Astrophorida, Spirophorida and Hadromerida . It is the only known spongivore reptile.

How do they breed?
Female hawksbill turtles only breed every two to three years. The reproduction period lasting six months, the female returns to her nesting site on average from 2 to 4 times per season. Each one lands on the beach and digs a nest and lays an average of one hundred eggs there. The incubation period is 47 to 75 days, depending on the season and location.
Do hawksbill turtles migrate?
Until recently, it was wrong to believe that the hawksbill turtle was less migratory than other species of sea turtle. Studies using satellite telemetry have shown that this species travels thousands of kilometers. Hawksbill turtles are likely to feed and breed in completely different areas.