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 - photo by 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 - photo by Andy Uhr



Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)


Hawksbill face - note pointed beak - photo by Zsuzsanna Pusztai


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 by Alejandro Gutiérrez




Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)


Loggerhead - photo by Alejandro Gutiérrez


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 - photo by Marlene Robinson



Detailed information on all of the wider Caribbean sea turtle species can be found at



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 - photo by 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.