Bonaire's Sea Turtles

 

Bonaire is home to three of the world’s seven species of sea turtles. Green and hawksbill turtles can be seen year-round, while loggerheads generally visit only during the nesting season.

 


Sea Turtle Species Found on Bonaire

 

Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)

 

Green turtle - Robert van Dam


The green turtle has a round face. Its shell plates (scutes) do not overlap, and the edge of the shell (carapace) is smooth and often scalloped (but not serrated) toward the rear of the body. Green turtles weigh up to 230 kg (500 lbs), though on Bonaire most are much smaller. Bonaire has a juvenile and sub-adult population year round with adult turtles usually only present during the nesting season. 
 

Juvenile green turtle. Note rounded face - Andy Uhr

 


 

Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)

 

Hawksbill face - note pointed beak - photo Susan Porter

 

The hawksbill turtle has a pointed face with a distinct beak-like appearance. Its scutes overlap, and the edge of the carapace is serrated toward the rear of the body. Hawksbills weigh up to 85 kg (185 lbs). Bonaire has a juvenile and sub-adult population year round with most adult turtles present only during the nesting season.

 

Hawksbill turtle - note serrated edges on the rear of the carapace - photo Doug Cohen

 

 


 

Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)

 

Loggerhead - Irena da Cunda

 

The loggerhead has a massive head that is broad and triangular in shape. The shell is often encrusted with barnacles. Its front flippers are relatively short compared to other species. Loggerheads weigh up to 200 kg (440 lbs). Loggerhead sightings on Bonaire are almost always of adults. 

 

Loggerhead - Marlene Robinson

 


 

Detailed information on all of the wider Caribbean sea turtle species can be found at www.widecast.org/Biology/Pictorial/PictorialKey.html

 


 

Rare species sightings on Bonaire


Leatherbacks are occasionally seen in Bonaire’s waters. Usually they are sighted from boats in the deep waters offshore as the turtles pass in their quest to find their only food source – jellyfish.  On occasion STCB is called to rescue leatherbacks that have become entangled in longlines used by the fishing industry. And every once in a while a leatherback comes ashore in an attempt to nest.

 

 

Leatherback sea turtle - Daniel Evans

 

 

Want to Know More?


Learn about Bonaire’s sea turtles at evening presentations by STCB staff.At 8 p.m. every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at Captain Don's Habitat.