Hawksbill turtles are one of the most beautiful and important species in the ocean. Found in the world’s tropical oceans, they’re known for their distinctive shells and the significant role they play in maintaining the health of coral reefs.
Unfortunately they’ve been pushed to the edge of extinction with the hawksbill turtle population declining by more than 75%, and are now critically endangered. It’s estimated that there are only 4,800 breeding females remaining in the Pacific Ocean. All sea turtles are threatened due to poaching, climate change and being caught in fishing gear and marine debris. But the hawksbill is also hunted for its beautiful shell, that’s made into jewelry, combs and souvenirs that are sold in markets across the Asia-Pacific. Despite being illegal, the trade continues.
WHAT ARE WE DOING TO HELP THE HAWKSBILL TURTLE?
Royal Caribbean has partnered with WWF-Australia to protect the Hawksbill turtle. Together we want to end demand for tortoiseshell products, break the supply chain and better protect the species.
In a world first, WWF-Australia will work with partners to test new technology to extract DNA from tortoiseshell products, such as earrings, bracelets and other trinkets. We will develop a DNA database that will help identify hawksbill populations most at risk from the illegal tortoiseshell trade by tracing hawksbill products from sale to where they were poached. We’re also working with local scientists and communities to better understand what’s driving the trade.
WWF-Australia will also conduct research to understand the true value of sea turtles to our oceans and the communities that depend on them. By having a deeper understanding of their true value and how the trade is being driven, WWF-Australia will be able to work with local communities, stakeholders and governments to implement effective zero poaching practices and policies to help end the trade.
Additionally, Royal Caribbean will work alongside WWF-Australia to drive awareness of the illegal hawksbill turtle trade with Australian travellers. Through educating the millions of passengers and staff who cruise the Asia-Pacific each year about the illegal turtle trade, we can equip tourists with the right knowledge to help them make informed choices when buying souvenirs abroad.
By working together, we can help protect the beautiful hawksbill turtle from the illegal turtle trade by ending demand for tortoiseshell products, breaking the supply chain and better protecting them in the places they call home.