A small, tropical marine turtle with a very attractive shiny shell, often used ornamentally as 'tortoiseshell'.
They usually attain a shell length of about 40-55cm (16-22in) and a weight of 13-45kg (29-100lb).
Hawksbills are relatively small, and take their common name from their beak-like jaws. They have overlapping plates on the upper shell.
They are found in warm waters throughout the world.
Hawksbills inhabit mostly tropical but also temperate shallow coastal waters.
They are omnivorous reptile, feeding on both plant and animal material. A large part of their diet is made up of toxic sponges, which appear not to harm them.
This species has been known to be aggressive to people.
As with most other turtles, hawksbills only come out of the water to breed, digging nests in the sand in which to lay eggs and returning to the sea after laying. Nesting occurs between July and October and courtship and mating begin earlier. Nesting is principally nocturnal, although rare daytime nesting does occur. An average of 140 eggs are laid, which hatch after 60 days.
Hawksbills are listed by the IUCN as an Endangered species. Their eggs are considered a delicacy by humans and other predators. Their meat is poisonous, perhaps as a result of the toxic prey they sometimes eats. Taking the eggs is illegal in many places. They are also hunted for their shells. Like most turtles, fishing, loss of habitat and disease is also a major problem.