The Hawksbill turtle is currently on the endangered species list
. Despite being a protected species since 1973 it is still in severe decline.
The shell, (bekko in Japanese), is highly prized by the Japanese and used to add ornamentation to almost anything.
The Hawksbill closely resembles the Green sea turtle, differing by possessing, two pairs of prefrontal scales, thick, overlapping scutes at the rear of the shell, four pairs of costal scutes, two claws on each flipper and a beak-like mouth.
The Hawksbill is a small to medium sized turtle weighing about 80 kilograms, the record weight for a Hawksbill is 127 kilograms.
Hawksbills, are bottom feeders living mostly on sponges in coral reefs. It’s dependance on coral reefs make it vulnerable to the deteriorating conditions of coral reefs, worldwide.
Hawksbills face the same threats other marine turtles do, but they are also singled out because humans find their shells highly attractive.
It is believed that the killing of hawksbills for bekko is a major problem.
Japan is the major consumer of bekko, and altho Japan has signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which protects the Hawksbill, it exempted itself from the ban on Hawksbills (among others).