no more male turtles
swimming towards extinction
The planet’s rising temperature is putting turtles at risk. The past five years have been the hottest on record, with a tenth of the planet warming at least two degrees.
To reach one of their six nesting grounds worldwide, turtles now have to swim through plastic, dodge fishing nets, and avoid oil spills. Now another threat to the turtles has emerged: warm sand temperatures only produce female hatchlings.
As the earth warms, more and more female turtles are expected to hatch. On Cape Verde 84% of hatchlings are now female, with males predicted to vanish within two or three decades.
We don’t know why environment and temperature effect the gender of sea turtles. Turtle eggs laid in sands below 27.7 °C produce males. Mixed nests are formed in temperatures between 27.7 °C and 31 °C, anything over this will result in solely female hatchlings.
Scientists are rapidly testing ways to cool the nests. These include gently dig up the eggs and move them to cooler parts of the beach, using sprinkler systems, or splitting the eggs up into smaller groups so that they don’t warm each other up. While some may consider these efforts as interfering, perhaps that’s what’s necessary at this late stage.
The lifespan of a sea turtle – over 100 years – and the amount of eggs they lay throughout their lifetime means that we won’t see the immediate effects global warming has on these creatures. But we shouldn’t be mistaken; human activity is having an increasingly distressing impact on sea turtles and could very soon lead to the extinction of this great species.