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A hawksbill turtle swimming through a reef, Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea © Jürgen Freund / WWF

A hawksbill turtle swimming through a reef, Banda Neira, Indonesia © Jürgen Freund / WWF

Surrender your shell

1.Complete the form   2.Send your item   3.Protect hawksbill turtles

Surrender your tortoiseshell items to WWF-Australia's ShellBank and play a part in the protection of the critically endangered hawksbill turtles. Nearly 9 million have been hunted to the brink of extinction for their tortoiseshell across Asia-Pacific during the past 150 years, putting not only our Great Barrier Reef's population of hawksbills, but many others across the region in danger. 

With the support of Royal Caribbean International and in partnership with the Australian Museum, WWF-Australia is using its cutting edge technology to extract DNA from surrendered tortoiseshell items. Hawksbills from different regions are genetically distinct and when the DNA is added to our ShellBank database it enables us to identify the hawksbill populations most at risk and targeted by the illegal wildlife trade. You can help simply by surrendering tortoiseshell items you have in your possession, helping this exquisite seafarer to survive. 


Check out our FAQ page

What is ShellBank?

Hawksbills from different regions are genetically distinct. If we can trace the tortoiseshell back to its original nesting population, we can identify those populations that have been targeted in the past and may still be targeted today. Building this DNA database - ShellBank - enables us to identify those hawksbills most at risk so we can improve turtle protection.

A hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) swimming above corals in Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras © Antonio Busiello / WWF-US

How do I identify real tortoiseshell?

It can often be hard to tell the difference between real and fake tortoiseshell. Below, we share some tips so you can learn how to tell the difference. However, your safest be is to Think Before Your Buy and avoid these products.


How to identify tortoiseshell products prospectus


Learn more

Why is this important?

Nearly 9 million hawksbill turtles have been traded for their shell over the past 150 years. Although the international trade in hawksbill turtles and their shell was banned in 1977, an illegal trade continues in the Asia-Pacific. By surrendering your tortoiseshell products - you can add to our ground-breaking ShellBank and help to play a part in the survival of this species.

Watch the video below to learn more or read our FAQs.

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If you have any questions about your donation, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly Supporter Services team either by email: or call 1800 032 551

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