Hawksbills may take decades to mature and it could be between 20 to 40 years before they are ready to breed (10). Upon reaching sexual maturity, a female will typically lay up to five clutches of around 100 to 140 eggs in one breeding season, and then wait a few years before nesting again (6). Nesting is much more dispersed than in other marine turtles, but individuals do tend to return to a particular beach season after season (10). Having survived the dash to the sea, hatchlings are believed to spend their first few years in the open ocean before returning to more sheltered coastal waters. Recent studies indicate that the oceanic phase may be shorter for hawksbills, or even omitted in certain regions, as hatchlings swim less vigorously than those of other species (7). Probably less than one out of 1000 eggs will survive and reach adulthood (10). Adults are opportunistic predators, using their sharp beak to prize invertebrate prey from crevices within the reef. Unusually amongst marine animals (to whom they are often unpalatable), sponges make up the majority of the hawksbill's diet (6).
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