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Rising temperatures turning major sea turtle population female


Scientists have used a new research approach to show that warming temperatures are turning one of the world’s largest sea turtle colonies almost entirely female, running the risk that the colony cannot sustain itself in coming decades, newly published research concludes. 

Sand temperatures determine the sex of turtle hatchlings, with warmer temperatures resulting in more females. During the past two decades, temperatures on islands in Australia’s northern Great Barrier Reef have increased to the point “that virtually no male turtles are now being produced from these nesting beaches,” the researchers from the United States and Australia write this week in the journal Current Biology. 

The study “raises new concerns over the immediate threats of climate change to sea turtle populations,” say the researchers from NOAA Fisheries and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. 

The study’s results will be important for wildlife managers as they consider strategies to lower incubation temperatures at key rookeries around the world “to boost the ability of local turtle populations to adapt to the changing environment and avoid a population collapse or even extinction.” 

Continue reading at NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center

Image via Dr. Camryn Allen, NOAA