This study presents the first published data on the morphometrics of nesting hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and their eggs and counts of yolked and yolkless eggs per clutch from Iranian Islands in the northern Persian Gulf. We found significant variation in some variables among 4 main nesting islands (e.g., weight of yolked eggs, p = 0.000; number of yolkless eggs per clutch, p = 0.017), but effect size was moderate or less (r < 0.5 or d < 0.8). The diameter (p = 0.039), weight (p = 0.028), and number of yolked eggs (p = 0.000) per clutch increased significantly with curved carapace length (CCL), but the effect size was only large for the number of yolked eggs (f2 = 0.152). The number of yolkless eggs did not vary with CCL (p = 0.453) or with the number of yolked eggs (p = 0.523). A meta-analysis of global hawksbill turtle morphometrics and reproductive output revealed significant variation in CCL (p = 0.000) and number of yolked eggs (p < 0.001), with nesting region having a very large effect size on both variables (g2 = 0.880 and 0.616, respectively). Hawksbill turtles from the Gulf were smaller than populations from the Gulf of Oman (p < 0.001), Arabian Sea (p = 0.000), Caribbean (p = 0.000), West Atlantic (p = 0.000), and Southwest Pacific (p = 0.000) but not the Red Sea (p = 0.104), and laid fewer yolked eggs than populations in the Caribbean (p < 0.001) and West Atlantic (p = 0.001) but not the Red Sea (p = 0.636). This may be due to hawksbill turtles nesting in the Gulf remaining within its waters postnesting so adult body size is restricted by the relatively poor foraging habitat and/or success and/or the extreme environments, subsequently limiting clutch size. More information on home range and foraging habitat is required to draw similar conclusions about hawksbill turtles nesting in the Red Sea. Hawksbill turtles nesting in the Gulf, Red Sea, and Arabian Sea also appear to lay larger number of yolkless eggs per clutch than other populations worldwide (mean = 17.6 ± 10.8 SD [range = 0–59]). The functional role of yolkless eggs, potentially in the maintenance of thermal and hydric conditions within tolerable conditions in shallow nests laid in extreme environments, requires further investigation. Similarly, the potential for yolkless eggs to be an adaptation to extreme nest environments in other sea turtle species also nesting in the northern Indian Ocean also warrants examination.
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