Philippine police said Friday they had seized 70 dead hawksbill marine turtles, a critically endangered species illegally trafficked for its prized shell, and arrested two suspects.

Hawksbills face an extremely high risk of extinction according to Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature as their shell is used for making jewellery and hair ornaments.

Two local men were arrested Thursday while transporting the dead hawksbills by boat off the coast of Dumaran town on Palawan island, police chief Arnel Bagona told AFP.
"We suspect that these two are dealing with Chinese poachers," Bagona said by telephone.

The marine turtles, who roam the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, are typically found around coastal reefs, estuaries and lagoons.

Philippine conservation law prohibits their collection and trade.

Palawan, an archipelago of more than 1,700 islands in the South China Sea, is famous for its abundant marine life that are targeted by poachers.

Chief Inspector Bagona said poachers usually bought the hawksbills and other rare Palawan-based species from locals.

Philippine conservation law prohibits their collection and trade.

Palawan, an archipelago of more than 1,700 islands in the South China Sea, is famous for its abundant marine life that are targeted by poachers.

Chief Inspector Bagona said poachers usually bought the hawksbills and other rare Palawan-based species from locals.