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Interactions Among Hawaiian Hawksbills Suggest Prevalence of Social Behaviors in Marine Turtles

October 07, 2021

We study the social behaviors of Hawaiian hawksbill turtles to find their social habits are more complex than previously believed.

Social behaviors represent a central element of ecology and evolutionary biology, but remain widely undocumented in reptiles. Although marine turtles have been studied for decades, the prevalence, importance, and potential role of social behaviors have been largely overlooked. 

Consequently, marine turtles have predominantly been characterized as nonsocial animals in the literature. Here we report on visual observations of hawksbill turtles revealing a more complex array of social behaviors. 

Our results confirm that traditional views of nonsocial life histories are incomplete and that social behaviors are likely prevalent in many marine turtle species. Our findings have important implications for marine turtle management and suggest increased research into social behaviors is warranted across the taxon.


Gaos AR, Johnson CE, McLeish DB, King CS, Senko JF. 2021. Interactions among Hawaiian hawksbills suggest prevalence of social behaviors in marine turtles. Chelonian Conservation and Biology. Volume 20, Issue 2:167-172.  https://doi.org/10.2744/CCB-1481.1.

Last updated on 01/05/2022