As a critically endangered species, the hawksbill sea turtle’s chances of future survival are relatively limited.
Simply put, there just aren’t many hawksbill sea turtles left in the world. How many specifically? Read on to find out.
Hawksbill Turtle Numbers Are Limited
According to the World Wildlife Federation, the population of hawksbill turtles in the world has declined by over 80% over the last century. This is an astonishing figure and certainly not good for the future outlook of the species.
While an exact population number is difficult to pinpoint, estimates have the total hawksbill turtle population around 8,000, with only five distinct populations with more than 1,000 females nesting each year.
A lack of reproductive success will hinder the species’ ability to grow, but especially so if we’re not vigilant about hawksbill turtle conservation efforts.
Where Can You Find Large Populations of Hawksbill Turtles?
Hawksbill turtle populations, while scarce, are actually scattered throughout the world. For example, there is a small population of hawksbill turtles in the United States (specifically in Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands), where about 500 to 1,000 hawksbill nests are laid every year.
Hawksbill turtles also have been found nesting in Florida, Mexico and Cuba. In the Pacific Ocean, a small hawksbill population resides along the coast of Hawaii.
However, the largest known nesting location of hawksbill turtles is in Australia and along the Solomon Islands.
Almost 2,000 hawksbill turtles are reported to nest on the northwest coast of Australia, while somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 nest near the Great Barrier Reef.
Given that the hawksbill turtle covets corals for food and nesting, the large figure near the Great Barrier shouldn’t come as a surprise. In general, the hawksbill turtle predominantly nests in the Western Pacific.
Is Anything Being Done To Preserve Remaining Hawksbill Turtle Populations?
Over the last 20 years, conservation efforts related to the hawksbill sea turtle have increased dramatically, especially as people realize just how endangered the species has become.
Most countries have banned the international trade market for hawksbill sea turtles, a major perpetrator in causing population decline.
Additionally, the WWF has conservation teams deployed in Australia near large populations with the goal of maintaining the thriving hawksbill turtle environment there.
The United States has also listed the species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, furthering the effort on hawksbill turtle conservation.
Scientists are encouraged that hawksbill turtle nesting has increased gradually over the last few decades, which could be great news for their survival.
For now, though, the hawksbill turtle population remains extremely fragile.
Hawksbill Turtle Population: Final Thoughts
The hawksbill turtle continues to be a critically endangered species, even as conservation efforts have ramped up over the last two decades.
The key will be ensuring that the species continues to receive protections and can thrive where it predominantly lives in the Western Pacific.
If this happens, it’s possible that we can one day increase the number of hawksbill sea turtles in the world!