The Turtleshell Trade

Hawksbill sea turtles are critical to the health of coral reefs. As one of the only predators of sea sponges, they help control their numbers, which allows coral to expand and grow. Unfortunately, they are also one of the two most endangered sea turtle species, considered critically endangered with only an estimated 15,000 adult females left in tropical areas of the ocean around the world.

The biggest threat to hawksbills is the trade in products made from their shells, also known as "tortoiseshell." Millions of hawksbills have been hunted for their shells over the past few hundred years and while the legal international trade ended more than 20 years ago, these products can still frequently be found for sale in many countries, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Asian countries. In 2016, SEE Turtles launched Too Rare To Wear, a campaign that works with the tourism industry to end demand for products made from sea turtle shells. 


When traveling in Latin America and the Caribbean, I pledge to shop carefully at souvenir shops and look for and avoid any products made of turtleshell, including bracelets, earrings, rings, guitar picks, combs, and fans.

When I find turtleshell for sale, I will let the vendors know that I only purchase from stores that are turtle-friendly.

Instead, I will look for and purchase locally-made and eco-friendly products.

And I will encourage my friends and family to avoid turtleshell products and share this campaign with them.

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Turtle diving products