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Hawksbill Turtle

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Uploaded on Dec 28, 2007

I filmed this Hawksbill Turtle while diving the Benwood Wreck a casualty of World War II, a British built steel hull 360 feet long and a 51 foot beam. This shipwreck is now home to huge schools of grunt, porkfish and hawksbill and is a good swallow wreck for all levels of divers.

The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only species in its genus. The species has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Pacific subspecies. Eretmochelys imbricata imbricata is the Atlantic subspecies, while Eretmochelys imbricata bissa is found in the Indo-Pacific region.

The hawksbill's appearance is similar to that of other marine turtles. It has a generally flattened body shape, a protective carapace, and its flipper-like arms are adapted for swimming in the open ocean. The hawksbill is easily distinguished from other sea turtles by its sharp, curving beak with prominent tomium, and the saw-like appearance of its shell margins. While the turtle lives a part of its life in the open ocean, it is most often encountered in shallow lagoons and coral reefs where it feeds on its chosen prey, sea sponges. Some of the sponges eaten by hawksbill's are known to be highly toxic and lethal when eaten by other organisms. In addition, the sponges that hawksbills eat are usually those with high silica content, making the turtles one of few animals capable of eating siliceous organisms. They also feed on other invertebrates, such as comb jellies and jellyfish.

Because of human fishing practices, hiEretmochelys imbricata populations around the world are threatened with extinction and the turtle has been classified as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union. Several countries, such as China and Japan, have valued hunting hawksbill turtles for their flesh, which is considered good eating. Hawksbill turtle shells are the primary source of tortoise shell material, used for decorative purposes. By the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, it is illegal to capture and to trade in hawksbill turtles and products derived from them in many nations.

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