Readers’ wildlife photos: hawskbill

Reader Alric sent this wonderful picture of a hawksbill turtle he took at the Palancar Reef near Cozumel, Mexico.  This species, Eretmochelys imbricata, is classified as highly endangered, and has a worldwide distribution (at bottom). Click to enlarge!


  1. Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    What a lovely shot! It is very well taken! =)

  2. gravelinspector
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Never seen one with it’s shell on, but last year when I was working in Tanzania, I came across this turtle shell bobbing around on the reef top.
    Nyuni reef shell.
    (I hope I got the link right there.)
    I’d noticed the villagers gutting a turtle on the beach next to the bar the afternoon before, and it looks as if they just threw the inedible bits into the sea (as they did with all waste – so we didn’t swim at that end of the island).
    One of the plates of … “horn” I suppose … came off in my hand when I tried to drag the thing up from the sea bed. It was around a metre from end to end, and too negatively buoyant to seriously consider trying to swim back a kilometer to shore with. So I just took the missing plate of the shell as my trophy and left the rest there for any of the other swimmers (surprisingly few) from the crew to pilfer. I don’t think any of them did try to get any.
    I’ll make a laptop cover out of it, or something.

    • Posted May 21, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink

      the “horn” plate is a scute, and you’re probably violating some international laws by owning it without the proper paperwork. would be a good place to start looking.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted May 21, 2012 at 6:25 am | Permalink

        “Scute” : I knew there was a word.

        I know of CITES and it’s implications. The Tanzanian authorites were not in the least bit concerned when they searched my baggage on entry to the airport (they search everyone’s baggage on entry to the airport). I’ve had more hassle for being a month over the expiry of my visa.

  3. newenglandbob
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink


  4. gravelinspector
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Hmmm, small world : in other news, on Friday a paper was published (Cadena et al, Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, Volume 10, Issue 2, 2012, pp313-331, “New pelomedusoid turtles from the late Palaeocene Cerrejón Formation of Colombia and their implications for phylogeny and body size evolution”)
    Link to contents page which apparently describes a “car sized” freshwater “snapping turtle.” Which sounds like a ready-made plot for a cheap horror movie.

  5. John Scanlon, FCD
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Regarding the conservation status of this iconic species, I recently saw this open-access paper by Grahame Webb (now a few years old) which contains good news and bad news:

    Good news for the Hawksbill: populations appear to be stable or increasing where they have been surveyed for the last few decades, and they’re not really at risk of extinction.

    Bad news: inaccurate assessments on the IUCN Red List mean conservation resources are not being applied where they would do more good.

  6. JBlilie
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Well done!

  7. Mary - Canada
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Great photo

  8. Ichthyic
    Posted May 22, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    “Palancar Reef near Cozumel, Mexico”

    I spent a couple weeks diving those reefs in the late 90s, before the big hurricanes hit.

    I’m wondering if Alric is a regular diver at this locale, and whether they have noted any significant lasting damage from the hurricanes that happened a few years back?

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