ENDANGERED MARINE TREASURE
This is the commonest sea turtle of Antigua, but they are an endangered species. Hawksbills have a narrow pointed beak and the shell is jagged towards the rear.
The shell is beautifully mottled brown, orange and gold and sometimes changes in colour slightly depending on water temperature. Hawksbills grow to up to 3 ft. long, a weight of 180 lbs and their main diet is of sponges. Eighty to a hundred females lay four to five hundred eggs around Antigua and Barbuda, nesting 4-6 times a year at 15-day intervals. 18,000 hatchlings are produced a year, with only about 3% reaching adulthood, because of ocean predators, land predators, human interaction and distruction through careless handling of these turtles, distructive fishing practices and lack of protection of nesting grounds. Hawksbills live to about 50 years if not taken by fishermen; a common reason for death of turtles is being tangled and trapped in gill nets and fishing nets.
The early Indians of Antigua perceived the Hawksbill as “a gift from the Gods”. The turtle motif is often found on their pottery as incised designs or as sculptured handles.
As Hawksbill Turtles return to the beach they were born to nest, each nesting season is quite active here and has become an amazing attraction, and there are many people dedicated to protecting this endangered species that spends a lot of it's time in our waters.
A facebook group is dedicated to expose the threats Hawksbill Turtles face when they come here to nest, and also records any sightings and posts photos. Click here
to view the group.
If you come across a Turtle nesting on the beach, or hatchlings being born, it is asked that you observe quietly from a distance, being sure to not use flash photography, flash lights, or any harsh lights, as this distracts the turtles and sends them off path. Turtles are guided back to the sea by the moon light on the sea, and any other light will lead them elsewhere toward danger, especially of roads and street traffic. Do not interfere with nesting or hatching turtles and if you spot any or see any in trouble, please call our Antigua Sea Turtle Project Hotline 720 6955 or EAG office 462 6236.
For information about the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Project, click here
Special thanks to the late Desmond Nicholson of the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda and Peter Duce for making this section of Antigua Nice Ltd possible!