Sea turtles named after Bath Rugby players in Christmas gift from fan

Fan Scott Eanes founded The Hawksbill Project, a UK-based charity that helps with the conservation of the turtle species. Credit: Fiero PR

A Bath Rugby fan, who's also a sea turtle biologist, gifted first-team players with sea turtles named after them this Christmas.

Scott Eanes handed out token gifts to the first XV on Saturday 23 December, as they left the pitch as victors against Harlequins.

Scott founded the UK charity, The Hawksbill Project, in 2022 to support and participate in the conservation of Hawksbill turtles.

On his two conservation trips in 2023, he had the idea to name turtles after the players from his favourite team.

Caribbean Hawksbill sea turtles are the most exploited marine turtle species in history.

In some locations, their population is just one per cent of what it once was, their shells harvested for jewellery and ornaments.

Scott hopes the gift will raise awareness for the species.

He said: “I love Bath Rugby and I love hawksbill sea turtles so why not blend the two?

“I thought it would be cool for them to know they are lending their name for theconservation of a keystone species.

"Nowadays almost every environmental story is bad news, it’s too hot, this is melting, this is bleaching, this is flooding…we need some positivity. This is that positivity!”

Scott moved from the US Virgin Islands to England in 2017 after his home on St. Thomas was hit by two catastrophic category 5 hurricanes, however still dedicates his life to sea turtles.

In June and July, he took several trips back and named a total of 17 hawksbill turtles after the Bath Rugby players, in St. John, US Virgin Islands, and Carriacou, Grenada, W.I.

Credit: Scott Eanes

Scott took photos of the creatures, customised them to include The Hawksbill Project logo, included the biometric information from the turtles, and then gave them to the players they were named after.

Scott added: "This beautiful and environmentally important species needs our help.

“This work is critically important and we are trying to do as much of it as possible to address data deficient areas, and the real satisfaction comes from people seeing the turtles we have documented.

"Two days after we left St. John, a lovely underwater photographer saw Ben Obano, the turtle, in Trunk Bay. Three weeks after that, Dr. Caroline Rogers photographed Tom Dunn, the turtle, in a bay on the south side of the island.

"This shows they are resident turtles and that is very valuable information.”