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5/10/20

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

There are seven species of sea turtles in the world. The hawksbill sea turtle is one of them, named after it’s narrow, pointed beak. They use this beak to eat sea sponges, and sometimes jellyfish and sea anemones. Hawksbill sea turtles live in the tropical oceans, mostly in coral reefs. Their most famous feature is their shell, with a pattern of brown and yellow scales that overlap across it. Hawksbill sea turtles live alone most of the time, except to mate. Natal beaches are the beaches where a female sea turtle hatched, which they come back to nest every two to three years, usually sometime between April and November. Hawksbill sea turtles lay their eggs at night. They lay about three to six clutches of eggs (about 140 eggs) per season with two-week intervals. When these eggs hatch, the hatchlings can’t swim as deep as an adult Hawksbill, so they will often float in sea plants and other sheltering places.

The main reasons that Hawksbill sea turtles are endangered are bycatch and the sale of their shells. Bycatch, when animals are accidentally caught in nets or hooks meant for another animal, is particularly bad for Hawksbill sea turtles because, unlike fish or sharks, they breathe air at the surface of the sea. Therefore, when they are caught in nets, they often sink away from the surface and drown. Another reason Hawksbills are endangered is the sale of their shells. Hawksbills are often caught for their shells which are then made into jewelry and other ornaments. The beautiful patterns on their shells are very valuable to make ‘tortoiseshell’ items, but this trade is harmful to the populations of Hawksbill sea turtles. Currently, Hawksbills are under protection by many laws, but hawksbill shells are still sold far too frequently. Another thing that contributes to why Hawksbills are endangered is the declining health of coral reefs because of climate change and harmful fishing practices.

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A turtle stuck on a longline.

Hawksbill Sea Turtles are extremely important to the health of the environment. They help keep the coral reefs they live in healthy. One way they do this is by removing sponges and other prey from the coral reefs. This makes room for fish to eat. Hawksbill Sea turtles also help the ecosystem when they lay their eggs. The eggs provide helpful nutrients to the place where they are laid and to some natural predators who eat them. They also are important to the people who live near them because they bring tourists who come to see them. This helps the tourism industry. Hawksbills are very important to the health of the environment they live in, and thus the animals who live in it.

Now, Hawksbill sea turtles are protected by many laws that ban the selling of their shells. The amount of turtles that are killed by bycatch is being reduced by changes to fishing gear (TEDs, or turtle exclusion devices, are one example) that make it harder for sea turtles to be stuck in them. Regulations are also being put in place that don’t allow people to fish during nesting times in areas close to turtle nesting areas. The main thing you can do to help Hawksbills is to not buy products made from Hawksbill sea turtles. You can also raise awareness about the problems caused by bycatch and unsustainable fishing practices. The Hawksbill is an amazing and beautiful animal that looks better swimming in the oceans then made into jewelry.

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Works Cited

"Hawksbill Turtle." World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/species/hawksbill-turtle. Accessed 25 Apr. 2020.

"Hawksbill Sea Turtles." Too Rare to Wear, www.tooraretowear.org/hawksbill-sea-turtles/#. Accessed 25 Apr. 2020.

"Hawksbill Sea Turtle." The National Wildlife Federation, www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Reptiles/Sea-Turtles/Hawksbill-Sea-Turtle. Accessed 25 Apr. 2020.

*all pictures used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.