Hawksbill Turtle

Post-nesting hawksbill turtle photographed in Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary, Redang Island.
Photo credit: Alarick.

Common name: Hawksbill turtle
Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata
Local Malaysian name: Penyu karah / Penyu sisik

Conservation status: Listed as critically endangered in the 2009 IUCN Red List and in CITES Appendix I.

Adult shell length: 70 – 90 cm
Adult body weight: 30 – 70 kg

Colour: combination of yellow, brown and dark-brown streaks

Food: Predominantly sponges

Range: Tropical oceans near coral reefs

Nesting sites in Malaysia: Sabah Turtle Islands (Pulau Gulisaan), Melaka (Kampung Kamunting and Pulau Upeh), Terengganu (minor, in Redang Island)

The following reproductive data on hawksbill turtles has been generated from 15 years (1993 – 2007) of saturation tagging research carried out by E.H.Chan in the Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary, Redang Island:

Number of clutches deposited per individual per season: Range of 1 – 6, average of 3 – 4 clutches
Inter-nesting interval (interval between each nesting): Range of 12 – 15 days, average of 13 days
Number of eggs per clutch: Range of 50 – 215, average of 150
Nesting frequency between seasons: 2 – 4 years

The long distance post-nesting migratory behaviour of one hawksbill turtle from Chagar Hutang has been studied by H.C.Liew and E.H.Chan using satellite telemetry. She was tracked from 17 June – 15 October 2001, covering a distance of over 1,000 km to reach her final destination off the coast of Sumatra near the equator.