“The Endangered Hawksbill Turtles: Facing Extinction Due to Human Activities”

“The Endangered Hawksbill Turtles: Facing Extinction Due to Human Activities”

Meet the hawksbill turtles, scientifically known as Eretmochelys imbricata. These magnificent creatures call the tropical seas of the world their home. However, their existence is hanging by a thread, threatened by human activities. In the span of just a century, their population has plummeted by a staggering 80%. Despite the relentless efforts of wildlife conservation organizations to safeguard them from extinction, human actions continue to pose a grave danger. Consumption of their eggs as food, hunting for their meat, and harvesting their valuable shells persist.

Hawksbill turtles belong to the exclusive family of sea turtles. This unique species resides in two subspecies—the Atlantic and the Pacific hawksbills—spanning the globe. Their appearance is akin to other sea turtles: a relatively flat body, a large protective shell, and flippers resembling paddles. Tragically, human pursuit has pushed some hawksbill populations to the brink of extinction.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them as critically endangered, with international regulations like CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) banning hunting and trade of their products for any purpose. The coastal waters of Vietnam have endured the strong impact of human activities for decades. Sea turtles, along with their eggs, have been exploited for food, traditional medicine, and artistic craftsmanship. Among the increasingly rare species, the hawksbill and leatherback turtles face the greatest threats.

At the dawn of the 20th century, the hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) were once abundant in Vietnamese waters. Although exact figures are unavailable from that era, estimated surveys suggest around 500 individuals nested on islands within the Gulf of Tonkin, Gulf of Thailand, and Con Dao region. Today, the number of nesting and foraging hawksbills along Vietnam’s coastline is alarmingly low. Without proactive measures to curb capture and trade, these remarkable creatures could disappear from Vietnamese waters in the near future.”

Nghia Pham