The Hawksbill Turtle is a truly fascinating animal. Weighing in at an impressive 80kg on average their features are mostly similar to other marine turtles. However, the Hawksbill stands out from other turtle species thanks to its distinctive beak-like mouth. In fact this is where the name ‘Hawksbill’ comes from. That isn’t the only unique feature to be found on these creatures… The Hawksbill Turtle is the first ever reptile to be recorded as biofluorescent!
Biofluorescence is the special ability to reflect blue light and emit it as a different colour. This means that, in the right conditions, the shell of a Hawksbill Turtle glows beautifully. Scientists are still trying to figure out the mysterious cause for the Hawksbill Turtle’s biofluorescence and whether this comes from algae on the surface of its shell or from the turtle’s diet which includes a type of biofluorescent coral. This isn’t the only interesting part of the Hawksbill’s diet, they also chew their way through huge amounts of sea sponge. This is a really important job for maintaining the ecosystem by allowing light to reach coral as well as making room for fish to eat.
Hawksbill Turtles have a wide range of natural habitats right across the planet, from the gulf of Mexico to the Brazilian coast, Florida, South Africa and across the Carribbean. A typical day in the life for a Hawksbill Turtle is spent close to shallow lagoons or tropical coral reef. When it comes to migration however, the Hawksbill can travel truly impressive distances. They are known to migrate thousands of kilometres to nest, which happens once every seven years on average.
Unfortunately the population of this species of turtle has fallen dramatically and they are now considered to be critically endangered. This is in part due to the hunting of their uniquely beautiful shells. The term ‘tortoiseshell’ comes from the striking brown, black and amber patterns on the shells of turtles like the Hawksbill. Historically the Hawskbill Sea Turtle was harvested for its shell more than any other turtle. Fortunately, this practice is now outlawed by the convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES), but this alone is not enough to save these animals from extinction.
At Extincts CIC we want to make extinction a thing of the past… not any of our favourite animals! And there’s no reason why we can’t have fun along the way. The Extincts game is an exciting way to discover loads more about our wonderful planet and its many creatures. Best of all, 70 percent of Extincts CIC profits goes straight to conservation charities working hard to protect endangered species, like the Hawksbill Sea Turtle. Make sure to check out our shop too where you’ll find the incredible Hawksbill Sea Turtle t shirt designs.
By Ella Pitt
Ella is a Brixton based vegan creative passionate about writing, politics, the environment and combining all three.
You’ll find more from Ella on their blog: What’s The Time Confessional and Instagram
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