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Green turtles face extinction

10 January 2018
Green turtles face extinction

This unique biological trait of these creatures is what that has jeopardised their future in an increasingly warmer world as rising temperatures due to climate change are turning one of the world's largest sea turtle colonies nearly entirely female, a new study revealed.

"Any variation on that of about one to two degrees, could risk producing all females or perhaps embryonic death".

"With average global temperature predicted to increase 2.6 degrees Celsius by 2100, many sea turtle populations are in danger of high egg mortality and female-only offspring production", said the report.

"Finding that there are next to no males among young northern green turtles should ring alarm bells, but all is not lost for this important population".

Climate change means more than 99% of green sea turtles in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef are now female, researchers have said.

Warming temperatures in the northern Great Barrier Reef has caused the phenomenon and Australian and American scientists have warned if the trend continued it could result in a complete lack of male turtles, with extinction the worst case scenario.

Two-year-old Green Sea Turtle “Sea Biscuit”
Two-year-old Green Sea Turtle “Sea Biscuit”

The study was carried out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California State University and Worldwide Fund for Nature Australia. Using a combination of endocrinology and genetic tests, researchers identified the turtles' sex...

Analysts found that grown-ups were 86.8 percent female while adolescent and sub-grown-up turtles were more than 99 percent female in the northern populace. In contrast, the southern region, where it is fairly colder, females accounted for only 65-69% of the population.

"Knowing what the sex ratios in the adult breeding population are today and what they might look like 5, 10 and 20 years from now when these young turtles grow up and become adults is going to be incredibly valuable".

The temperature at which eggs incubate determines the sex of the eggs. "We know that species evolve in response to climate and other environmental changes, but they need time for that". Now it seems that day has arrived for the much beloved green sea turtles, at least in the far north of Queensland.

"These results suggest that increased sand temperatures affect the sex ratios of the (northern Great Barrier Reef) population such that virtually no male turtles are now being produced from these nesting beaches", the study said.