What is the major cause of the continued decline of the hawksbill sea turtle?
The hawksbill sea turtle is a small to medium sea turtle with a very attractively colored shell of thick overlapping scales. This shell is the source of "tortoise shell." Hawksbill turtles have a distinct, hawk-like beak. Adults range in size from 0.8-1.0 meters (30-36 inches) shell length and weigh 45-90 kilograms (100-200 pounds). The hawksbill turtle is a shy tropical reef dwelling species that feeds primarily on sponges. Commercial exploitation is the major cause of the continued decline of the hawksbill sea turtle. There is a continuing demand for the hawksbill's shell as well as other products including leather, oil, perfume, and cosmetics. The hawksbill shell commands high prices (currently $225/kilogram), a major factor preventing effective protection.