Marine Biology

, Volume 127, Issue 1, pp 171–178 | Cite as

Diving behavior of immature hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) in a Caribbean cliff-wall habitat

  • R. P. van Dam
  • C. F. Diez


Time-depth recorders were attached to immature hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata Linnaeus, 1766) residing at the northwestern cliffs of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Data on diving profiles obtained from four turtles of 32.0 to 53.4 cm straight carapace length revealed strong similarities in behavioral patterns. During daylight hours, turtles were active an average 8.4 h per day, surfacing 3.6% of the time. Length of foraging dives correlated with turtle size, with mean durations ranging from 8.6 to 14.0 min. Foraging dives, with a mean depth of 4.7 m, were associated with feeding on encrusting sponges. At night, turtles were mostly inactive, surfacing 1.8% of the time and with individual mean submergence intervals of between 30.4 and 37.1 min. From the surfacing behavior of turtles making deep and long dives, it is inferred that dives were aerobic, with the turtles making use of oxygen stores in addition to that of the lung.


Oxygen Sponge Behavioral Pattern Strong Similarity Carapace Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Berkson H (1966) Physiological adjustments to prolonged diving in the Pacific green turtle (Chelonia mydas agassizii). Comp Biochem Physiol 18: 101–119Google Scholar
  2. Bjorndal KA (1980) Nutrition and grazing behavior of the green turtleChelonia mydas. Mar Biol 56: 147–154Google Scholar
  3. Cadenat J (1957) Notes d'ichtyologie Ouest-Africaine. 17 Biologie. Régime alimentaire. Bull Inst fr Afr noire (Sér A: Sci nat) 19: 274–294Google Scholar
  4. Carr A, Hirth H, Ogren L (1966) The ecology and migration of sea turtles, 6. The hawksbill turtle in the Caribbean Sea. Am Mus Novit 2248: 1–29Google Scholar
  5. Eckort SA, Eckort KL, Ponganis P, Kooyman GL (1989) Diving and foraging behavior of leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). Can J Zool 67: 2834–2840Google Scholar
  6. Hartog den JC (1980) Notes on the food of sea turtles:Eretmochelys imbricata (Linnaeus) andDermochelys coriacea (Linnaeus). Neth J Zool 30: 595–610Google Scholar
  7. Kontos A, Eckort S (1988) The relationship between the number of breaths, surface time and dive time of the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate) in the wild. Am Zool 28: 180AGoogle Scholar
  8. Kooyman GL (1989) Diverse divers: physiology and behavior. Springer-Verlag Berlin HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  9. Lutcavage ME, Lutz PL (1991) Voluntary diving metabolism and ventilation in the loggerhead sea turtle. J exp mar Biol Ecol 147: 287–296Google Scholar
  10. Lutz PL, Bentley TB (1985) Respiratory physiology of diving in the sea turtle. Copeia 1985: 671–679Google Scholar
  11. Meylan A (1988) Spongivory in hawksbill turtles: a diet of glass Science, NY 239: 393–395Google Scholar
  12. Ogden JC, Robinson L, Whitlock K, Daganhardt H, Cebula R (1983) Diel foraging patterns in juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas L.) in St. Croix United States Virgin Islands. J exp mar Biol Ecol 66: 199–205Google Scholar
  13. Parrish FK (1958) Miscellaneous observations on the behavior of captive sea turtles. Bull mar Sci Gulf Caribb 8: 348–355Google Scholar
  14. Prange HD (1976) Energetics of swimming of a sea turtle. J exp Biol 64: 1–12Google Scholar
  15. Randall J (1967) Food habits of reef fishes of the West Indies. Stud trop Oceanogr, Miami 5: 665–847Google Scholar
  16. Sato K, Sakamoto M, Matsuzawa Y, Tanaka H, Naito Y (1994) Correlation between stomach temperatures and ambient water temperatures in free-ranging loggerhead turtles,Caretta caretta. Mar Biol 118: 343–351Google Scholar
  17. Standora EA, Spotila JR, Keinath JA, Shoop CR (1984) Body temperatures, diving cycles, and movement of a subadult leatherback turtleDermochelys coriacea. Herpetologica 40: 169–176Google Scholar
  18. Tenney SM, Bartlett Jr D, Farber JP, Remmers JE (1974) Mechanics of the respiratory cycle in the green turtle (Chelonia madas). Respir Physiol 22: 361–368Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. P. van Dam
    • 1
  • C. F. Diez
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Systematics and Population BiologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdam
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

Personalised recommendations