Thankfully products made out of hawksbill turtle shell are not commonly found in Belize, but they are available. When you you are shopping around the country in gift shops and at street side market vendor tables use this pictorial guide to avoid purchasing any items made from hawksbill shell, and if you see hawksbill, or any sea turtle product for sale, submit a report here and report it to the Fisheries Department immediately.
Carvings made out of cow horn are very common in Belize, however it is ILLEGAL to sell any products made out of tortoiseshell. Please note the streaky patterns in the cow horn, compared the to more blotchy pattern in the fish prey in the birds mouth, with is made from the endangered hawksbill sea turtle.
The fish in the birds mouth is made from hawksbill shell. You can easily identify this as hawksbill shell due to the contrasting dark and white blotchy pattern.
Bracelet made from hawksbill turtle shell. Note the blotchy pattern with contrasting dark and white blotchy pattern.
Cowhorn carvings are common gift items available in Belize.
Last year, 2012, marked the 10th anniversary sea turtles have been protected in Belize. A small resort owner in Placencia was not aware that sea turtles were protected and the legislation had to be downloaded and shared in order to provide proof that all sea turtles are now protected in Belize and discontinued the sale of these products in their gift shop.
Earrings made from hawksbill turtle shell. This pair are made from the darker parts of the shell thus more difficult to identify.
But jewelry made from hawksbill turtle shell are for sale at street vendors in Placencia. This set of bracelet and earrings was reported by a concerned turtle conservationist in Nov 2012. While many items made from hawksbill turtle shell were reported to be for sale, this set was purchased for US $10 to prove that it is being sold illegally. These illegal products will be tested for DNA so the natal beach of this sea turtle can be identified.
Please report all harvest and sales of sea turtles to the Belize Fisheries Department at 203-2623.