Hawksbill sea turtles are considered to be the most endangered sea turtle species remaining in the world.
With this status comes increased motivation to preserve remaining populations of hawksbill sea turtles.
Hawksbill Sea Turtles Are Endangered for a Few Reasons
Why are hawksbill sea turtles endangered in the first place?
We examine some of the factors below.
They are Very Small
It doesn’t help that the Hawksbill turtle is small in stature as far as sea turtle species go.
Adult hawksbill sea turtles typically range from 70-90 centimeters in length and weigh anywhere from 45 to 70 kilograms.
This allows the hawksbill sea turtle to be very mobile, and to be able to feast on sponges and within coral reefs.
At the same time, however, this makes the hawksbill sea turtle extremely vulnerable to predators, forcing them to constantly seek shelter.
Their Habitats Are Disappearing
Increases in coastal areas with rising sea levels in conjunction with the loss of coral reefs are making conditions gradually less habitable for the hawksbill sea turtle.
Since hawksbill sea turtles rely on coral reefs for food and shelter, the loss of coral reefs is very problematic for the species.
Coastal development means less places for hawksbill sea turtles to nest, as the species needs to be closer to water to ensure their hatchlings make it back to sea. With more land, the difficulty of guaranteeing the survival of hatchlings increases dramatically.
Their Shells Are Coveted
One of the primary reasons hawksbill sea turtles are endangered is due to human demand for their shells.
For thousands of years, civilizations have sought out the hawksbill sea turtles for their ornate shells, which can be used as decoration, for jewelry and for other small items.
In the last 100 years alone, it has been estimated that millions of hawksbill sea turtles have been killed in order to furnish the market for their shell, though international trade bans imposed on the hawksbill sea turtle has lessened this figure in recent years.
Their Eggs and Meat Are Delicacies
In addition to being used for their shells, hawksbill sea turtles are also highly coveted as a luxury food item.
Hawksbill sea turtle eggs are gathered and eaten by humans for their protein and supposed “aphrodisiac” quality, though the latter isn’t scientifically proven.
Hawksbill sea turtle meat is also considered a delicacy in many cultures, but especially in many East Asian countries.
In some cases, hawksbill turtle meat can even be used as bait to lure in other fish.
Hawksbill Turtle Endangerment: Final Thoughts
The above reasons all account for the critical endangerment of the hawksbill sea turtle, but there are so many other reasons that the species faces dire circumstances as well.
Fortunately, interest in preserving the hawksbill sea turtle has never been higher.
With this trend, we will hopefully see a rise in the number of hawksbill sea turtles worldwide as we attempt to reverse a troubling trend within the species.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.