Hawksbill sea turtles are one of the most beautiful and important species in the ocean. They help coral reefs thrive by eating sponges and are a thrill for divers and snorkelers to see in the wild. But they have been hunted to the edge of extinction for their colorful shell. Their shells (also known as "tortoiseshell") are made into jewelry and other products that are frequently sold to travelers in markets around the world. Too Rare To Wear works with the tourism industry to end this trade.
Hawksbill sea turtles are considered critically endangered by the IUCN. One of their top threats is being killed to make products from their shells. Despite the end of the legal international commercial trade of hawksbill shells, the trade remains a major threat around the world, primarily in Latin America and Asia, where enforcement of laws is often non-existent.
In 2016, SEE Turtles launched Too Rare To Wear to reduce the demand for sea turtle products from the tourism industry. Consumers often don't know that they are made from tortoiseshell, that they are endangered, or that the items are illegal to purchase in most countries and illegal to take across borders. The campaign has so far reached millions of people through videos, graphics, and other outreach materials, we completed the first global report on this trade in decades.
Over the long-term, this campaign will help to reduce demand for tortoiseshell, helping bring hawksbills back from the brink. We will do that through educating travelers, supporting local campaigns, and helping to strengthen enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws in key countries including Nicaragua, Colombia, Indonesia, and elsewhere.