[Coral-List] Hawskbill turtles predating corals

Andrew Harvey andrewharvey at xsmail.com
Mon May 12 14:44:50 EDT 2008

Hi David,

I have observed hawksbills feeding on Physogyra and Plerogyra spp. 
around Isle St Marie, Madagascar. Similar to your observations, feeding 
scars were apparent once the cause was recognised. I can't comment on 
the wide spread or long term impacts of this, though it would be 
interesting to find out. Perhaps others can confirm how common this 
behaviour is -  I believe jellyfish are a known component of the diet 
and bubble coral seems like a reasonable substitute.


> Subject:
> [Coral-List] Hawskbill turtles predating corals
> From:
> David Obura <dobura at africaonline.co.ke>
> Date:
> Sat, 10 May 2008 22:14:53 +0300
> To:
> "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Hi all,
> While in Aldabra and Alphonse islands (Seychelles) I noted a
> behaviour/effect of hawskbill turtles that I've never heard mentioned
> before. I had noted dead patches/scars on a bubble coral in the genus
> Physogyra that were widespread, though not covering a large proportion of
> the coral. I was watching a hawksbill turtle swimming out from behind one of
> these heads and noticed that it had tissue in its mouth, and it bent down
> and took a bite from the coral. I then observed the same behaviour and
> coral-scars on Alphonse.
> Has anyone reported hard coral tissue in hawksbill gut contents, or damage
> to corals from turtle predation? I'm intrigued, as though the impact was not
> huge to the corals, this was definitely a stable food source for the
> turtles, and impact on the corals.
> Best,
> David Obura
> CORDIO East Africa
> 9 Kibaki Flats, Kenyatta Public Beach
> P.O.BOX 10135 Mombasa 80101, Kenya
> Tel/fax: +254-20-3548549; mobile 0733-851656
> dobura at cordioea.org, dobura at africaonline.co.ke

*Andrew Harvey*

10 Bernard Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6PP, UK
T: +44 77 1029 8522
E: andrewharvey at xsmail.com
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