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Girl has magical encounter with critically endangered sea turtle

Serena, a young, but experienced scuba diver was exploring the coral reefs around Little Cayman Island when she met a beautiful Hawksbill Sea Turtle. The two were cruising along in the same direction and they met like two friends with a common destination. Moving slowly and matching the pace of the turtle, she found that it was not only accepting of her presence, but also curious and welcoming. As they cruised along for more than ten minutes, the turtle turned occasionally to look into her eyes. Drifting slowly, it made no attempt to distance itself from her. It even turned in her direction to close the distance when she moved farther away. This was a dream encounter for Serena, who is also a biology student and a true animal lover. Their journey continued until the turtle eventually rose to the surface for air. Serena watched it go and she turned and made her way back to the dive boat to end her dive. Such a magical experience with a creature so rare and beautiful is breath taking and unforgettable. Hawksbill sea turtles are critically endangered. Although they live in tropical waters all around the world, their population has dwindled, making it one of the rarest sea turtles in the world. Also considered to be the most beautiful of all sea turtles, due to their beautifully colored shells, encountering the Hawksbill sea turtle is a delight for scuba divers. They have a long beak and narrow head, resembling a bird, which is how they got their name. They feed almost exclusively on sponges that grow among the coral. The algae that grows on sea sponges contains a toxin that accumulates in a Hawksbill's body, making the meat of this turtle potentially poisonous for humans. These turtles can grow to 200 pounds and reach a length of 3 feet. Their massive and beautiful shells have been the primary cause of the drastic reduction in their numbers. In the last century alone, they have declined more than 80 per cent due to the trade in their shell. Hairbrushes and jewelry have been made from the shells and are actually called tortoiseshell. Hunted to near extinction, especially for trade in Japan, they are now illegal to hunt or harvest. Despite this, their is still a heavy black market trade for their shells. They are also threatened due to pollution and habitat destruction, coastal development, fishing, and the harvesting of turtle eggs. The Hawksbill Sea Turtle plays an important role on the reef, consuming sponges that would otherwise overpopulate and cause suffocation of thee corals on the reef. One Hawksbill can consume up to 1,000 pounds of sponges per year. Without them, the delicate ocean balance will be threatened, which could lead to coral loss and ultimately, a loss of fish and other ocean creatures that rely on the coral for food and survival.
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