A new study has found that the rising temperatures caused by global warming are beneficial to the population growth of sea turtle populations. However the study also says that if temperatures rise too much that it will systematically cause the sea turtle embryos to die before they hatch. For the time being it seems that the sea turtle female population is growing with global warming trends.
Professor Graeme Hays from Deakin University is a co-author to the research. The study focuses on breeds of sea turtles that are located at the globally important loggerhead turtle rookery that is housed on the Cape Verde Islands which are located in the Atlantic ocean. Even though the study was done in the Atlantic ocean, the lessons learned still apply to other species located in other oceans in other parts of the world, such as the Pacific Ocean. The study found that beaches with more lightly colored sand currently produce a group of sea turtle hatchlings that are 70.1 percent female. The study also found that beaches with sand that is of a darker color produces a group of sea turtle hatchlings that are 93.5 percent female. This proves that the sea turtle female population is growing with global warming trends.
Science has taught that the reproductive cycle of a reptile is dependent on the given temperature of the environment. Sea turtles are no exception to this law. The incubation period for a sea turtle embryo is 29 degrees, any higher than that and the ratio of female turtles becomes higher than the ratio of male turtles. Once the temperature rises to the area of 30.5 degrees the sea turtle embryos will then become all female and the male half of the embryos will die off all together. However, if the temperature goes any higher than 33 degrees than all of the sea turtle embryos die. Even with the chance of a population increase, the number of sea turtles that will appear will be small in comparison to the growth that was recorded in past research. An example would be the green sea turtles found in the Caribbean. The population of that particular species is less than one percent of numbers that have been recorded in the past.
The research study also stated that even if the sea turtle population continues to balloon over coming decades, sea turtles that have already made it to their adult stage of life will not be in danger for the next 150 years.
The findings of the study will attempt to make conservation of the sea turtle species a priority by instructing beaches with regular human traffic to plant more trees or other types of vegetation in order to deter the sand from getting too warm and compromising the sea turtle population. The authoring professor stated that if a beach is going to build a hotel on or near the water, it should cover some areas of the beach where the sand is of a lighter color.
Aside from the breeding effects, the effects of global warming are also likely to affect the sea turtle’s feeding sources and make food more scarce for them. This was also stated in the research study. In addition, the rising sea levels are making it even more difficult for sea turtles to find appropriate spots in order to lay their eggs. This is yet another way in which the sea turtle female population is growing with global warming trends.
Professor Hays stated that there is still much to be contemplated about the sea turtles and global warming. Sea turtles have swam the earth’s seas for hundreds of millions of years and it is still not known if they can quickly adapt to the changes being brought forth by global warming and climate change.
By Mike White