Beautiful endangered hawksbill sea turtle glides over the coral in Belize

Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered, having been hunted to near extinction in the last two centuries. Their strikingly beautiful shells were sought after for hairbrushes, ornaments, and furniture accents. Also part of the meat trade for many years, their numbers declined rapidly.

Fortunately, conservation efforts and stricter laws have removed much of the incentive to hunt them and their numbers have started to increase.

For scuba divers, a chance encounter with such a beautiful animal is a memorable thing. This turtle is a large male who is very relaxed about being accompanied by a scuba diver with a camera. The turtle glides along, seemingly effortlessly over the sand and coral, searching for food. Their main diet is a specific type of sea sponge. Although they appear to be bulky and clumsy, they are surprisingly graceful as they swim through the water. Able to propel themselves quickly with a few strokes of their flippers, they are also very agile when they need to be.

Swimming with a beautiful sea turtle is a very relaxing way to spend time under water.