Hawksbill Sea Turtle

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES | Hawksbill Sea Turtle

Hawksbills help maintain the health of coral reefs.
Hawksbills help maintain the health of coral reefs.

Hawksbills are named for their narrow, pointed beak. They also have a distinctive pattern of overlapping scales on their shells that form a serrated-look on the edges. These colored and patterned shells make them highly-valuable and commonly sold as “tortoiseshell” in markets.

Hawksbills are found mainly throughout the world’s tropical oceans, predominantly in coral reefs. They feed mainly on sponges by using their narrow pointed beaks to extract them from crevices on the reef, but also eat sea anemones and jellyfish. Sea turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years. They are a fundamental link in marine ecosystems and help maintain the health of coral reefs and sea grass beds. Source:  World Wildlife Fund

Source:  World Wildlife Fund


• PLACES
Mesoamerican Reef, Coastal East Africa, Coral Triangle
• STATUS
Critically Endangered
• SCIENTIFIC NAME
Eretmochelys imbricata
• WEIGHT
90-150 pounds
• LENGTH
30-35 inches
• HABITATS
Oceans

WHY THEY MATTER

Hawksbills help maintain the health of coral reefs. As they remove prey such as sponges from the reef’s surface, they provide better access for reef fish to feed.  They also have cultural significance and tourism value.  For example, for local residents in the Coral Triangle, the flow of visitors who come to admire turtles is a vital source of income.

WHY THEY ARE CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

The shell trade for tourists is a serious threat to Madagascar’s marine resources.

Despite their current protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and many national laws, there is still a disturbingly large amount of illegal trade in hawksbill shells and products. They are much sought after throughout the tropics for their beautiful brown and yellow carapace plates that are manufactured into tortoiseshell items for jewelry and ornaments. In recent decades, eastern Asia has provided an eager market for tortoiseshell.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Adopt an Animal
Make a symbolic Hawksbill Turtle to help save some of the world’s most endangered animals from extinction and support conservation efforts.

Take Action
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CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE HAWKSBILL SEA TURTLE
Source of all information provided on page: World Wildlife Fund