Wildlife Trafficking Bust: 109 Critically Endangered Sea Turtles Found Dead

A bust at customs in China revealed more than 100 illegally trafficked endangered sea turtles.

Police authorities seized 109 hawksbill turtle shells from poachers trying to smuggle them through customs in China. Unfortunately, it was too late for the turtles. Cotton was stuffed into shells where the heads should have been.

The hawksbill sea turtle is a critically endangered species located mainly in tropical oceans, specifically in coral reefs. There are only 15,000 nesting female hawksbill turtles left on earth, and the survival of the species depends on them. However, the distinctive color and pattern of their shells make them a prime target for poachers looking to make a profit off of the death of wild animals.

It is illegal to sell, buy, or trade hawksbill turtle shell, but unfortunately, it happens much more than people may realize. Especially because of the popularity of the turtle’s shell (anything labeled ‘tortoiseshell’ print is based on the hawksbill shell pattern and color), the species is under serious threat.

hawksbillImage: US Fish & Wildlife Service

This seizure of shells shows just how large of a problem poaching and illegal wildlife trading is. With the access that the internet grants, endangered animals continue to be at risk and need our protection now more than ever.

Hopefully, people will see the impact that ‘tortoiseshell’ products can have on the hawksbill sea turtle species and will be motivated to search for alternatives.