Hawksbill Sea Turtles Essay

1785 words - 7 pages

Imagine a world where sea turtles are extinct; did you know that was preventable? The hawksbill sea turtle population is drastically low and if action is not taken they will soon become extinct. Several factors come into play in the extinction of this species; the most evident one is their breeding behavior. Due to the natural breeding behavior of the hawksbill sea turtle and their inability to sustain a viable population, they are going extinct; however, if they were introduced into breeding programs their extinction would be prevented.
Hawksbill sea turtles, or Eretmochelys imbricata, are classified under the Cheloniidae family (Gems & Gemology 38). The scientific name, Eretmochelys imbricata, comes from the Latin word imbricatus which means "covered with tiles" (38); the plates of the hawksbills carapace overlap one another like the tiles of a roof. The hawksbill turtle gets it common name because of its beak like appendage on its face.
This beak like appendage is an important feature of the hawksbill turtle because it is needed in order to eat some of the hard food that consists of its diet. Hawksbills sustain themselves on sponges, mollusks, and other sedentary animals (OCEANA). The hawksbill uses its beak like jaws to get food out of the crevices in coral reefs (Seaturltes911).An interesting fact about the hawksbills diet is that they are the only sea turtle that can actually eat glass. They use their jaws to break apart the glass and safely eat it (JBHP). The consumption of glass sustains the turtle and balances the ecosystem.
Hawksbill sea turtles are in danger of extinction, and because of that they are listed as critically endangered under the Endangered Species Act (OCEANA). Several factors are in play when it comes to the reason of the hawksbill sea turtle extinction, several include: destruction of habitat, unavailability of food sources, commercial exploitation, etc. The hawksbill turtle is the only species of marine turtles that has been commercially exploited for ornamental tortoise shells (38). Although, ornamental tortoise shells are not the only thing that they have been commercially exploited for; despite the fact that these turtles are listed as critically endangered, they are often killed and stuffed to be sold as curios (OCEANA). Curios or a curio is a small article valued as a collector's item, especially something fascinating or unusual (dictionary.com "curios"). Hawksbill turtles have been hunted to near extinction for their carapace¬¬¬—a bony shell covering some or all of the dorsal part of an animal—which is used to make hair clips, combs, jewelry, and decorative art (OCEANA)(dictionary.com "carapace"); this is a major threat to the recovery of the hawksbill species. The carapace of this turtle is the main source of decorative tortoiseshell jewelry. Not only have these turtles been hunted for their carapace, they have also been hunted for their meat and eggs (Wildlife Conservation Society)....

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