15 February 2013

Awesome Non-Fish in Trouble # 1: A Faithful Hawksbill

Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricatainhabit all tropical oceans of the world, and favor coastline where algae, sponges and other benthic invertebrates are abundant. They are highly mobile which makes them difficult to monitor. Contrary to what is known, they are not polygamous. A recent study on their DNA samples revealed that females mate only once at the start of the breeding season and can store sperm up to 75 days or until they reach the nesting site [1].

Photograph by M. Pan-Saniano

They have been highly commercially exploited for their bekko (tortoise shell) since the 15th century B.C. which resulted to a dramatic decline in their population based on the number of females annually nesting. Thus, they have been marked as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1996 [2].

Let us spread the knowledge! It is the primary step to the road towards conservation.

To know more about hawksbill turtles, visit SeaLifeBase.

[1] Phillips, K.P., T.H. Jorgensen, K.G. Jolliffe, S. Jolliffe, J. Henwood, and D.S. Richardson. 2013. Reconstructing paternal genotypes to infer patterns of sperm storage and sexual selection in the hawksbill turtleMolecular Ecology.

[2] Meylan, A.B., and M. Donnelly. 1999. Status justification for listing the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) as critically endangered on the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3(2):200-224.

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