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

Alexander R. Gaos, Corinne E. Johnson, Don B. McLeish, Cheryl S. King, Jesse F. Senko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Social behaviors represent a central tenet 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 (Eretmochelys imbricata) inhabiting a nearshore coral reef in Hawai'i that reveal a complex array of social behaviors. Combined with recent evidence for social behaviors in other marine turtle species, 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-172
Number of pages6
JournalChelonian Conservation and Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • Cheloniidae
  • animal behavior
  • central north Pacific
  • communication
  • cooperation
  • reptiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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