Hawksbill turtles are a species of sea turtles that are critically endangered. Why is this? Because of us. They have a pattern of beautiful scales on their shells that make them very attractive. Because of their colorful shells, people hunt them to sell. Hawksbill Sea Turtles are important because they play a role in our ocean reef ecosystems. When they feed on sea sponges that cover the reef, they make it easier for small fish to find food. Then bigger fish eat those small fish. When they uncover space on the reef this allows the reef to get more sunlight.
These turtles are endangered because people pollute the water and take up too much space building houses and other structures. The turtles get caught in nets, on fishing lines and on hooks. Sea turtles have to breathe, and even though they can hold their breath for a very long time, if they get caught in a net they can drown. What threatens these sea turtles the most, though, is that people are hunting them and selling their shells. Luckily, they are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (or CITES) and by other other laws, but there is still lots of illegal hunting and trading.
How can we help these fascinating creatures? We can help the Hawksbill Turtles by not fishing with big nets and hooks that turtles can get caught on, and by not polluting. Also, don’t buy jewelry that has been made from “tortoiseshell.” Another thing you can do is tell all of your friends and family about these endangered sea turtles. Raise awareness!
Remember that Hawksbill Turtles are not the only animal species that is endangered. Leatherback Sea Turtles, Black Rhinos, Saolas (a rare antelope-like animal), Vaquitas (dolphin-like) and Amur Leopards are all critically endangered, also, because of similar problems. Everyone needs to help them!