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 jewellery, glasses, combs and souvenirs that are sold to travellers 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.
As part of our Save the Waves® program and ongoing commitment to the world’s ocean, we have joined forces with WWF-Australia to protect the hawksbill turtle. In a breakthrough that could help save the species, scientists, with our support, have developed a test to extract DNA from tortoiseshell products.
The DNA test and subsequent ShellBank database will help fight illegal trade. Combined with tagging and satellite tracking, DNA will help identify all hawksbill populations, how they are connected, where they go, and which nesting areas are most at risk from poaching. WWF-Australia is working with local scientists and communities to develop this database for hawksbill turtles across Asia-Pacific.
WWF-Australia will also conduct research to understand the cultural, economic and environmental importance 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 avoid buying tortoiseshell products.
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.