Hawksbills for the Holidays: News of a Dramatic Increase in Their Nesting Numbers

Photo by: Ben Ashmole Flicker CC (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)

Photo by: Ben Ashmole Flicker CC (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)

The holidays are a great time to share good times with family and friends. Let’s keep those happy thoughts going with some good news about the critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WSC) team in Nicaragua reported a dramatic increase in the nesting of critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtles, including the highest nest counts since their conservation project began in 2000!

You’ll be happy to know:

  •  The total nest count for Hawksbill turtles in the project area in Nicaragua’s Pearl Cays region has increased some 200% from 2000 to 2014!
  • Of the areas monitored, poaching rates have decreased by more than 80%!
  • Poaching in 2014 was one of the lowest in project history!
  • Nest success has averaged approximately 75% this season, with over 35,000 hatchlings going to the sea as of the end of November!

The Hawksbill sea turtle is listed on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered since it was determined that the annually nesting females, over the last 3 turtle generations, have declined by 84% to 87%.

The cause of such a decline is the same as most of our sea turtles species, including degradation of nesting habitats, becoming the bycatch of ocean fisheries, increasing predation of nests by small mammals, and poaching of their eggs for consumption. Hawksbills also have historic pressures from hundreds of years of poaching for their use in fashion accessories. Their beautiful shells have been desired globally as the primary source of tortoiseshell material. In 1973, the trade of tortoiseshell was banned internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), however this material is still widely desired for its unique aesthetics and as a symbol of wealth.

“These recent nest counts show that by working with local communities, we can save sea turtles from extinction,” said Caleb McClennen, WCS Executive Director of Marine Conservation. “Communities partnering with WCS are directly involved with safeguarding their own natural resources. Without their help and commitment, this project would fail, and Nicaragua’s Hawksbill Turtles would be doomed.”

With hard work and a little luck lets hope this population trend continues!

Original press release can be seen HERE