Climate change is affecting sea turtles in more way than one

There are six and a half million sea turtles in the world. The sea turtle population has had extremely low demographic rates these past couple years, causing many species to become endangered. 

In Florida, just-hatched sea turtles are surprising scientists. No male sea turtles are being born in Florida, only females. The sex of sea turtles is determined by the temperature of the sand they are laid in, and the temperature of the Florida beaches is so high that only females are being laid. The last four years in Florida have been the hottest yet, as climate change has caused the temperature to rise so high that no male turtles have been laid in the past year. 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Pexels.com

This occurrence has also taken place in the hot beaches of Australia. All seven species of sea turtle are known to only hatch as female if the sand is a certain temperature. If sea turtle eggs are incubated at 28 degrees Celsius or below they will be born as a male, on the other hand, if eggs are incubated at 31 degrees Celsius, the newly-hatched turtles will be female. If temperatures are in between these levels, sea turtles can be born as either sex. As the sand temperature continues rising, fewer and fewer male turtles are laid. Male turtles are now outnumbered by females by 10:1. Due to climate change, temperatures are going to continue to rise, which could cause sea turtle populations to suffer. Climate change is not only negatively affecting the number of male sea turtles being born, but also damaging sea turtles’ homes. It is killing the reefs where sea turtles thrive and also changing the direction of water currents, which could cause the sea turtles to be driven into new ecosystems with new predators. Climate change also causes hazardous weather circumstances, which can destroy nests and flood the eggs killing all the babies inside. However, scientists are not sure if the number of females to males is going to put their population at a critical low.  They know that if the sea turtle population is all females and they have completely run out of males they would be in a lot of danger, but that is not thought to happen too soon. And even though no males are laid if the sand is too hot, scientists believe if the eggs are damp, they may hatch more males. 

Climate change is affecting sea turtles very negatively, and putting their population in danger. And because of the temperatures rising in Florida, only female turtles are being laid. And there’s no way for scientists to tell when male sea turtles will be laid again, orr if the population of male turtles is doomed for good. Scientists also are torn between what the lack of males means for the sea turtle populations.  

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