Hawksbill turtles are long-lived and mature slowly, taking 20-40 years to fully develop and averaging a 20-50 year lifespan.
Hawksbill turtles are long-lived and mature very slowly, taking 20 to 40 years to fully develop. The normal lifespan of hawksbill turtles is thought to be about 20 to 50 years, however biologists are not sure exactly how long they live.
In the Caribbean and Western Atlantic, hawksbills may mature in 20 or more years. Age to maturity in the Indo-Pacific, however, requires a minimum of 30-35 years.
Generation length is defined as the age to maturity plus one half the reproductive longevity. Given estimated ages to maturity of hawksbill turtles at 25 years in the Caribbean and 35 years in the Indo-Pacific, with half of reproductive longevity estimated at 10 years, a conservative generation length of 35 years, (25 + 10 years,) is calculated for the Caribbean and Western Atlantic, and 45 years, (35 + 10 years,) in the IndoPacific. In analyzing the data, declines over three generations are therefore measured for up to 105 years in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic and up to 135 years in the Indo-Pacific. In fact, generation length may well have been longer in the days when population density was higher.
Sources: (Bjorndal, Bolten, & Chaloupka, 2000; Boulon, 1994; Chaloupka & Musick, 1997; Diez, van Dam, & Archibold, 2002; Edelman, 2004; Limpus, 1992; Mortimer, Day, & Broderick, 2002; Mortimer & Donnelly, 2008; Mortimer, et al., 2002; Pilcher)
Image: Gerwin Sturm