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

Thank you for your support

More than 150 items of real tortoiseshell products including salad servers, hairpins, necklaces and bracelets have been donated to the groundbreaking Surrender Your Shell project.
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.

What is ShellBank?

Did you know hawksbill turtles 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 bet is to Think Before You 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. Donated tortoiseshell products will be added to the ground-breaking ShellBank and help to play a part in the survival of this species. Stay tuned for more updates.

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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: enquiries@wwf.org.au or call 1800 032 551

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