Science

Rising temperatures turning green sea turtles female in Great Barrier Reef

Rising temperatures turning green sea turtles female in Great Barrier Reef

The Current Biology paper says the northern GBR population of more than 200,000 nesting females-one of the largest in the world-could eventually crash without more males. Now a new report informed that change in climate has affected the green sea turtles in the Great Barrier Reef. The embryos inside respond to the temperature, developing as male if colder and female if warmer. A few up or down into the temperature can affect the natural balance of this species.

"The pivotal temperature for sea turtle populations where they produce 50 per cent male and 50 per cent female is about 29 degrees Celsius". Now it seems that day has arrived for the much beloved green sea turtles, at least in the far north of Queensland.

After collecting 411 for analysis and release, they found a "moderate female sex bias" in turtles from beaches in the cooler, southern Great Barrier Reef, where about 65-69 percent were female.

This unique biological trait of these creatures is what that has jeopardised their future in an increasingly warmer world as rising temperatures due to climate change are turning one of the world's largest sea turtle colonies nearly entirely female, a new study revealed. Scientists who are behind the research are from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California State University, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature Australia.

There are two genetically distinct populations of green turtles on the reef. It included, 99.1 percent of young, subadults percentage was 99.8 and adults' percentage was 86.8.

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So, the researchers developed a new technique: Studying the turtles' hormones.Proving that the increasing temperatures actually changed the turtle population proved challenging, though.

"This research is so important because it provides a new understanding of what these populations are dealing with", said Dr. Jensen.

"Our study highlights the need for immediate management strategies aimed at lowering incubation temperatures at key rookeries", the researchers wrote, "to boost the ability of local turtle populations to adapt to the changing environment and avoid a population collapse - or even extinction".

"Knowing what the sex ratios in the adult breeding population are today and what they might look like five, 10 and 20 years from now when these young turtles grow up and become adults is going to be incredibly valuable".

The project was funded by the World Wildlife Fund Australia. It is the high time to take necessary steps to control the climate change.


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