Look What's Killing Our Sea Turtles?

17 April 2015


Sea turtles are found all over the world. They live in warm and temperate waters and travel hundreds of miles between nesting and feeding grounds. The sea turtles have been facing threats due to poaching, fishing, and pollution and now the new addition in the list of threats is Global Warming. Global warming affects the survival habits of a lot of species but it affects the sea turtles to a greater extent.

As you might know, beach covers are the natural nesting habitat of sea turtles. The female turtles come ashore at the beaches to make nests and lay eggs. The rising sea levels are causing a loss of these beaches and the rising water levels wash away their nests.

The temperatures of the sand where these turtles nest determine the sex of the turtle. The increasing temperatures cause the sand to become hotter and this alters and affects the natural sex ratio. Increased temperatures can also decrease the hatching rate.

Based on some recent researches, scientists are now suggesting that the global climate change has a strong possibility to eradicate the production of male turtle offspring if mean global temperatures increase 4°C while the increases of less than 2°C may significantly distort the male-female sex ratios.

Sea turtles use ocean currents to migrate to long distances for nesting and to find prey. Warming ocean temperatures manipulate these migratory species by changing currents and by causing an impact on the distribution and abundance of prey species. This can cause southerly species to end up in northerly regions, well outside of their normal range.

Warm water temperatures cause a decline in seagrass beds which alters the feeding habits of the sea turtle. Warmer water also affects the coral reefs through coral bleaching which are very important for the survival of species like the Hawksbill Turtle.