Climate change led to an increase in temperatures all over the globe. In Florida, the effects of heatwaves and warming oceans on some species have become evident in the past four years as researchers found that nearly every turtle hatched as a female.
The sharp rise in female turtles is a result of climate change induced heatwaves that significantly warmed up the sands on some beaches around the state. Most turtles, alligators, and crocodiles are subject to temperature-dependent sex determination, while in other species, fertilisation determines the gender.
According to the National Ocean Service, the temperature of the eggs will decide whether the hatchling will be female or male. If a turtle egg incubates below 27.7 degrees Celsius, the turtle will be male, while a female turtle will hatch when the egg incubates above 31 degrees Celsius.
In the past, the temperature would fluctuate between these two extreme points in regions where turtles lay their eggs. But in recent years, at least in Florida, the unusually warm sand has led to a higher ratio of female turtles.
The National Ocean Service commented: “Increased temperatures could result in skewed even lethal incubation conditions, which would impact turtle species and other reptiles.”
With climate change accelerating around the globe and heatwaves becoming more common, the uneven male-to-female ratio in turtle hatchlings might lead to turtle populations declining sharply.
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Photography courtesy of Unsplash.