T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Turtle (Hawksbill) Eretmochelys imbricata

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Cheloniidae
Subfamily: Cheloniinae
Genus: Eretmochelys
Species: E. imbricata
Binomial name: Eretmochelys imbricata
Common names: Hawksbill turtle 

Eretmochelys imbricate live in shallow waters of continental and island shelves and are distributed widely through the tropical band of the central Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions. Eretmochelys imbricata is one of the five species of turtles that visit New Zealand’s waters. The other four species are Caretta caretta (Loggerhead), Dermochelys coriacea (Leatherback), and Chelonia mydas,  Lepidochelys olivacea (Olive ridley).
They are relatively rare visitors to mainland New Zealand and are mostly seen in the upper North Island though they have been recorded as far south as Cook Strait. 

Hawksbill turtles are relatively small sea turtles typically growing to 1 m in length, weighing around 80 kg on average. The carapace (shell) has a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales that form a serrated-look on the edges. The carapace has an amber background patterned with an irregular combination of light and dark streaks, with predominantly black and mottled-brown colours radiating to the sides. Males are distinguished by a brighter pigmentation, a concave plastron, long claws, and a thicker tail. Eretmochelys imbricate’s common name Hawksbill is after its V shape head, giving them the appearance of birds' beaks.

Hawksbill turtles are considered a the critically endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Commercial trade of Hawksbill or derived products is prohibited by CITES Appendix I. Untended fishing gear is responsible for many loggerhead deaths. Turtles may also suffocate if they are trapped in fishing trawls. Turtle excluder devices have been implemented in efforts to reduce mortality by providing an escape route for the turtles. Loss of suitable nesting beaches and the introduction of exotic predators have also taken a toll on loggerhead populations. Efforts to restore their numbers will require international cooperation since the turtles roam vast areas of ocean and critical nesting beaches are scattered across several countries.

In New Zealand, all sea turtles are protected under the Wildlife Act 1953. This means it is illegal to kill or harass any species of sea turtle within New Zealand's Territorial Sea or Exclusive Economic Zone. It is also illegal to possess a sea turtle, or any part of a sea turtle without a permit issued under the Wildlife Act, or evidence that it was legally imported into New Zealand or was in your possession prior to the commencement of the Wildlife Act (1 April 1954).







Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/