Home » Climate change, male sea turtles are no longer born: the fault of the heat

Climate change, male sea turtles are no longer born: the fault of the heat

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Climate change, male sea turtles are no longer born: the fault of the heat

Females only. The Turtle Hospital di Marathon a shelter for sea ​​turtles which has been operating in Florida since 1986, stated that analyzes conducted over the past four years on hatched eggs on local beaches revealed the exclusive presence of female specimens . This trend is attributed to climate change: in sea turtles the sex of the unborn child is in fact influenced by the temperature of the sand in which the eggs are buried during the incubation period. Scientific studies have shown that in the hottest nests, where the mercury super and 31 builds a clear majority of pink flakes prevails.

In an interview with Reuters, Turtle Hospital director Bette Zirkelbach pointed out that Florida last four summers were the hottest ever recorded. During this time, continued Zirkelbach, the researchers who monitor the brood health “they found no male sea turtles, only female”. The event is not an exception, but rather seems to confirm an increasingly consolidated trend in various parts of the world. For example, an Australian research from 2018 found that the 99% of green turtles of the northern Great Barrier Reef were female.

At the moment, experts are unable to say for sure what it may be the impact on the medium to long term of this phenomenon. It is in fact known that in the populations of sea turtles there is already an important numerical imbalance in favor of females, which is why many scientists believe it is likely that within a few decades the progressive increase in temperatures will cause the almost total disappearance of the male specimens. The inevitable conclusion of the story would be the extinction of these marine reptiles, given the impossibility of sustaining a sufficient number of matings.

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However, not everyone thinks the same. Some researchers believe the question is probably more complex of what we think. In this regard, evidence is often cited which seems to suggest how just a few males turtle to fertilize several females. It would therefore not be excluded that maintaining a high number of females to the detriment of the other sex may even represent a evolutionary adaptation to keep the species safe from harm.

On balance, however, an objective fact remains: global warming it has a direct effect on the life of sea turtles, which cannot be ignored. In this sense, the attention of the scientific community is not limited to discussions related to the sex of the unborn. The increasingly frequent storms and the rise in sea levels resulting from the climate change pose an additional threat to the nests, which can be swept away or submerged with lethal outcomes for the fragile eggs.

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