Hawksbill Turtle: Eretmochelys imbricate


The hawksbill is the rarest sea turtle in Florida. Its raptor-like jaws give the hawksbill its name. This small agile sea turtle, about a yard long and 100 to 200 pounds, is known for its tortoise-colored shell. The hawksbill was sought after in the past to use its beautifully patterned shell for jewelry, hair ornaments and other decorative items. Today, use of its shell is banned in most of the world but tortoiseshell goods still may appear in stores and people are asked not to buy them. The hawksbill has an oval body, narrow head, overlapping shields on its kaleidoscopic armor, a serrated edge on the rear of its shell and two claws on each flipper.


Warm tropical seas are where people are most likely to see hawksbills. In Florida, hawksbills are found primarily on reefs in the Florida Keys and along the southeastern Atlantic coast.


Hawksbills’ raptor-like jaws are perfectly adapted for grabbing sponges, their favorite food. While sponges are composed of tiny glass-like needles, they apparently cause no harm to hawksbills.

Additional Information:

Hawksbill federal recovery plan: http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/recovery_plan/931110.pdf Adobe PDF

Image Credit: Nicole Ordway

FWC Facts:
The largest lake in Florida is Lake Okeechobee.

Learn More at AskFWC