Hawksbill Sea Turtle:Critically Endangered(Eretmochelys imbricata)-Evan Yip The majestic hawksbill turtle is definitely something to watch, its stunning golden brown carapace is uniquely colored and patterned, something admired around the world for both good and bad. They are valued amongst people in the context of ecotourism, conservation and of course the dreaded turtle trafficking. This is why they are now critically endangered, on the brink of extinction from the wild. The Hawksbill Turtle is a fine species, one of the smaller sea turtles there are, their heads is shaped with a sharp point like a bird’s beak, hence the name “Hawksbill”. To distinguish them from other sea turtles, their flippers have 2 claws each, their jaw is not sharp and jagged like other turtles, they also have orange, brown or yellow bony carapaces (upper shell) with few ridges and four scutes (plates, scales) wrapping around them. Hatchlings are mostly brown with pale blotches on their scales and a special heart-shaped carapace. As they grow older, it turns into a longer shaped one. Adult hawksbills are 2.5 to 3 feet (71 – 89 cm) long in shell length and weigh 101 to 154 pounds (46-70kg). Hawksbill turtles are the most tropical of all sea turtles, found mostly in tropical areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, in places like coastal reefs, rocky areas, estuaries (where the tide meets the stream) and lagoons. They use their narrow head and jaws to reach foods from tiny spaces and crevices in coral reefs, as hawksbills generally feast on anemones, squid, shrimp and most importantly sponges. They live for around 30 to 50 years in the wild and have been swimming on this earth for the last 100 million years, definitely much older and wiser than the humans currently inhabiting their planet, who are mercilessly wiping them out.Hawksbills are a critically endangered animal, threatened by a lot. They include the trade of their products, destruction of their habitat, which leads to the decline of nesting and feeding areas, mostly caused by excessive egg collection, fishing related problems (bycatch) and the development of coastal areas and pollution.However, their trafficking is still the biggest problem for hawksbills. Despite strict trade laws revolving around the Hawksbill, there is still a large amount of trade for the hawksbill products, and this is the biggest threat to their population decline. Hawksbill are highly valued in the trade market because of their eggs, leather, carapaces and the stuffed whole turtle. In places such as South East Asia, turtle eggs are widely collected and eaten at a regular basis which quickly deteriorates the turtle numbers and population. People there also trade a lot of turtle eggs to sustain their economy. For example, the nearing extinct population at the Terengganu beaches in Malaysia heavily relied on the trade of exquisite turtle eggs to bring themselves back to this world.People collect these rare turtle eggs for many reasons. They provide some great nutritional food to the local people eaten raw or lightly heated, the eggs are also collected because of religion, the belief in aphrodisiac and medicinal properties of turtle eggs. Finally, people poach the eggs because of the egg based trade that earns a disturbing amount of money and continues to grow at an incredible rate.At a global scale, another component of trade in the Hawksbill turtles are their shells and stuffed whole turtles. Hawksbill shell plates are used in jewelry and decoration ornaments. Their carapaces (upper shells) are the only way of obtaining a tortoise-shell (known as bekko or carey) and this results in the Hawksbill population declining perilously over the last 50 years as the demand for these shells has escalated just as much.There is a fairly large market for turtle leather commodities and stuffed whole turtles. Even though the international trade in all marine turtles is now prohibited among more than 160 countries of CITES (the Convention on International Trade of Wild Species of Fauna and Flora), there still remains a large amount of illegal trade in this world.Us as consumers have a very large influence over the trade market. If we stop the demand for a animal product, then there will be no profit out of supplying it anymore, and people will stop killing animals for it. Same works in the context of the hawksbill turtle. To help and get rid of all of the turtle trade, we need to dig deeper into the economics of this issue. To lower the supply, we lower the demand. To effectively curb the supply (and demand) of the illegal trade, it is essential to first work with the producer and consumer countries in coordination. TRAFFIC (the international wildlife trade monitoring network, executed a two-way joint programme between WWF and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), has conducted several investigations into marine turtle trade in Southeast Asia and came to the conclusion that the levels of trade are still at a very high level. “When the buying stops, the killing can too.” WWF and TRAFFIC will continue to try and prevent this kind of trade. It is based on both the hawksbill and green turtle and both domestic and international trade in a few steps.1. By increasing the volume of national governments in favor to enforce CITES regulations and domestic species rules. 2. By investigating other alternatives for communities on turtle eggs and meat that also provide a good fit economically, culturally and enough protein. 3. Setting goals and forming action plans for limiting collection of turtle eggs and meat where possible, enforcing the rules and making them more well regulated.