Hawksbill sea turtles are critical to the health of coral reefs by consuming sea sponges that compete with coral for space. They are also a favorite of snorkelers and divers and help draw visitors to spots around the world, helping local economies. But the beautiful shell of the hawksbill, used to hide in the colorful reefs, is also a big reason they are endangered. In many places, artisans take the hawksbill shell (also known as "tortoiseshell") to make jewelry and other products for sale to tourists.
Hawksbills are listed as Critically Endangered and in decline by the IUCN Red List. In the US they are listed as Endangered. Estimates suggest that only 15,000-20,000 nesting females remain worldwide, a fraction of their former population. Today the black market continues and according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Japanese bekko industry remains intact. Recent surveys in Latin America have shown the broad availability of these products; more than 10,000 turtleshell products were found in more than 200 stores in Latin America in the recent report Endangered Souvenirs. The US is the world’s second largest market for illegal wildlife products and tourists who purchase them abroad and bring them home often don’t realize they are contributing to the decline of a critically endangered species.
Too Rare To Wear: A campaign to end demand for turtleshell products in the travel industry
Endangered hawksbill turtle shell trade is much bigger than scientists ever suspected: National Geographic (2019)
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Hawksbill turtles are considered by many to be the most beautiful of sea turtles. Unfortunately this beauty is also a reason they are critically endangered, since their shells are used to make jewelry and other products. Learn more about hawksbills here: https://www.tooraretowear.org/ #SeaTurtleWeek
Hawskbill sea turtles are being poached into extinction to make “tortoiseshell” jewelry, trinkets, and other products. Learn how to #BuyInformed to ensure your purchasing choices don’t harm this magnificent species: www.WildlifeTraffickingAlliance.org/BuyInformed. #SeaTurtleWeek