Hokesbil Totel Iván Cumpián

Hoksbil Totel (Hawksbill Turtle)

  • Hoksbil Totel are classified as Endangered.
  • This species grows very slowly and are not sexually mature until they are at least 31 years old.
  • There is 2-5 years between breeding periods for females.
  • They can live to 50-60 years of age.
  • The sex of hatchlings is determined by the sand temperatures in their nests.

Eretmochelys imbricata

Hoksbil Totel are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world, including several nesting areas in Vanuatu. The shell is olive-green or brown with reddish-brown, brown or black markings in a tortoiseshell pattern. The shell is domed and heart-shaped with overlapping scales. The hatchlings are brown to black above and lighter underneath.

Distinctive features

The Hoksbil Totel has a parrot-like beak and narrow head.


Adult females weigh between 60 to 80 kg and have a mean curved carapace (hard upper shell) length of 82 cm, though this can grow up to 100 cm in length.



Before maturing, they spend the first 5 to 10 years of their life drifting on ocean currents. After this, they settle and forage in tropical tidal and sub-tidal coral and rocky reef habitats.


Omnivorous but, in many areas, they prefer to eat sea sponges.


Night-time nesters. They generally lay 3 to 5 clutches in a season. Each clutch contains around 130 to 160 eggs.

  • Feeding
  • Courtship or mating
  • Hatched eggs
  • Presence of juveniles
  • Nesting
  • Nest location. Is it on the beach, in the dunes or under trees?

When to Look

  • Year round
  • Nesting season normally extends from August to early March, peaking in November to January. They may lay multiple clutches in a nesting season.
  • Approximately two months after the eggs are laid, the hatchlings leave the nest for the ocean
  • They typically nest at night

 Where to Look

  • Coastal regions of Vanuatu. 
  • Nest on sandy beaches primarily under vegetation or high up on the beach.
  • Typically nest on small and isolated beaches with little or no sand and a rocky approach.
  • Feed in tropical tidal and sub-tidal coral and rocky reef habitats

The tracks of Hawksbill Turtles and Green Turtles are distinguishable from one another. Hawksbill Turtles have front flipper marks equal or slightly wider than their back flipper marks, back flipper marks are widely spaced and curled, and the back flippers, belly and tail produce a zigzag pattern due to the turtle's alternating gait. Green turtle tracks have front flipper marks overlapping those made by the back flippers, they are paired, they have symmetrical front flipper marks, and a short distance between flipper marks.