2021 Edition

Fabien Lefebvre

Trapped out of the water


Category - Wildlife in Crisis

Trapped out of the water

A word from the photographer: “Eretmochelys imbricata - hawksbill turtle in Martinique. The shot was taken at night using a red light to avoid disturbing the turtle. Long-coveted for the noble material of its shell with which jewelry is made, the population of hawksbill turtle is decreasing. A conservation status of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) classified the species as threatened in 1968 and is now critically endangered. The 1992 convention formally prohibits the exploitation the turtles’ shells, even dead. Within a century, a great majority of the hawksbill turtle population has disappeared. Despite its critical conservation status, there are many threats to this species. The chance for a hatchling to reach adulthood is just 1 in 1,000, knowing that a turtle lays between 50 and 200 eggs per clutch. In this image the turtle was looking for a site to lay eggs and got stuck in an abandoned fishing gear on the beach. Egg-laying is a stressful time for the turtle, as it is much heavier, less skillful and vulnerable on land. The turtles encounter many hardships: It is plagued by stray animals, poaching for its flesh, light pollution removing all-natural landmarks, the intentional disturbance of curious observers, pollution of sites, erosion of beaches, loss of habitat linked to urbanization, to the looting of nests by mongooses or by certain animals fond of turtle eggs. That night, the turtle was freed from its trap. Others will not have this chance. However, it gave up its laying and returned to the sea after two hours of struggle on land between finding a place to lay eggs and intervening for her release.”