Morphology data of Eretmochelys imbricata
Identification keys
Main Ref. Márquez, M.R., 1990
Appearance refers to

Sex attributes

specialized organs
different appearance
different colors

Descriptive characteristics of juvenile and adult

Striking features
Body shape lateral
Cross section
Dorsal head profile
Type of eyes
Type of mouth/snout
Position of mouth
Diagnosis Carapace in adults: cardiform or elliptical; with imbricated dorsal scutes. Head: medium-sized; narrow; with a pointed beak; 2 pairs of prefrontal and 3 or 4 postorbital scales; tomium not serrated on the cutting edge; but hooked at the tip. Snout: narrow; elongated. Carapace scutes: thick for coping with waves; to obtain food from between corals and rocky substrates. Scutes: strongly imbricated at maturity. Scutelation of the carapace: similar to Chelonia, with 5 costal; 4 pairs of lateral (the first not touching the precentral scute); 11 pairs of marginal plus one pair of postcentral or pigal scutes. Plastron: covered by 5 pairs of scutes; plus one or two intergular; at times 1 small interanal. There are 4 poreless inframarginal scutes covering each bridge. Each rear and fore flipper bears 2 claws on its anterior border. Males: stronger, more curved claws and longer tails than females. Hatchlings and juveniles: wider carapace than adults. Carapace have 3 keels of spines which disappear with growth. Young adults: sometimes have a remnant of the dorsal central keel; without spines. In juveniles and subadults: scutes of the carapace are indented on the rear third of the carapace margin. Color: most colorful among sea turtles. In Eastern Pacific, pattern shows from very bright colors to the heavy melanistic forms. Scales of the head: creamy or yellow margins; more apparent at the sides or cheeks than on the roof. Carapace color: in spots or stripes; of the complementary colors: brown; red; black and yellow. Color spots and stripes: arranged in a fan-like pattern. Scutes underneath are thin and amber-colored; in juveniles, brown spots in the rear part of each scute. Head and flippers dorsal side: darker and less variable; in eastern Pacific population, the coloration is sometimes nearly black. Hatchlings: more homogeneous in color. At the rear part of the carapace, mostly brown with paler blotches on the scutes; and, also small pale spots on the 'tip' of each scute along the 2 keels of the plastron.
Ease of Identification likely to be confused with closely related species.

Meristic characteristics of Eretmochelys imbricata

Lateral Lines Interrupted: No
Scales on lateral line
Pored lateral line scales
Scales in lateral series
Scale rows above lateral line
Scale rows below lateral line
Scales around caudal peduncle
Gill clefts (sharks/rays only)
Gill rakers
on lower limb
on upper limb


Dorsal fin(s)

Fins number
Finlets No. Dorsal   
Spines total
Soft-rays total
Adipose fin

Caudal fin


Anal fin(s)

Fins number
Spines total
Soft-rays total

Paired fins

Pectoral Attributes  
Pelvics Attributes  
Main Ref. (e.g. 9948)
Glossary (e.g. cnidaria)
Entered by Dar, Christine
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