Green turtle population who call the Great Barrier Reef their home are some of the latest revealed as being affected by climate change and a rise in water temperature, to the point where scientists are a bit worried that their populations might dwindle further.
It’s not that they’re dying from pollution or getting stuck in rubbish – though that is a very serious issue – it’s actually that the majority of them are female. Which is because they’re a species whose sex is decided by their environment and habitat.
As reported by the ABC, a study done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration across the US and Australia over the last 20 years, they’ve found a big spike in female turtles in North Queensland, because the water temps have gone up a couple of degrees in that time.
Experts say that green sea turtles are very sensitive to how warm the water is, and the perfect temp for a good balance of male to female turtles is 29ºC – even just a smidge higher than that and the turtles will begin to mainly develop as females.
Obviously this means a serious threat to the already-endangered species, as a majority female population means less males to mate with, and although a non-male dominated community would rule by any other measure, it poses a real threat to the turtle species in the Barrier Reef.
The study showed that of the 300 turtles studied, 69% (nice) of the turtles living in the southern parts of the reef were female, and 99% of those in the northern waters were female.
As the sex of the turtle babies happens while they’re in their egg, scientists are looking to short-term solutions to cool down the eggs, in an attempt to boost male numbers, using everything from shade cloths over nesting areas, to artificial rain to cool temps.Source: ABC
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