This latest story out of Australia goes to the heart of the complexity and connectedness of marine ecosystems. Over the last two years we have reported on the massive coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Nearly 90% of the world’s largest structure created by living organisms has been severely impacted by rising ocean temperatures.
It is now becoming apparent that the warming temperatures have also dramatically affected the reef’s marine life in ways that had never been anticipated. The northern part of the Great Barrier Reef has experienced the greatest increase in ocean temperatures and as a result, the green sea turtles from that area are now overwhelmingly female. (photo – © Michele Westmorland)
99% of Green Sea Turtles are Female
More than 200,000 females nest in this area, one of the largest concentrations in the world, but it could be a disaster without males and that’s no joke. The reason is that the sex of turtles is determined by the temperature of the eggs during incubation, with warmer temperatures making for more females. In fact, it is estimated that 99% of all juvenile green turtles are female as reported by the WWF in Ecowatch.
“These impacts show that the Great Barrier Reef really is at the frontline of climate change. Australia must adopt ambitious climate change targets that will save the reef and its unique creatures” said Dermot O’Gorman of WWF-Australia.
“Scientists and wildlife managers now know what they are facing and can come up with practical ways to help the turtles. One possibility is shade cloth erected over key nesting beaches, like at Raine Island, to lower nest temperatures to produce more males.”
by Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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