Global Warming Could Make These Sea Turtles 98% Female

Climate change will effect different species in different ways.

sea turtles in sand
RIAU IMAGES / Barcroft Media via Getty ImagesGetty Images

This year offered more demonstrable evidence that all animals—big, small, with wings, or with thumbs—will face the drastic effects of climate change. But not all animals will face these changes in the same ways. Some species, like sea turtles, might experience a warming climate much more radically.

A from the British University of Exeter and the Portuguese Marine and Environmental Sciences Center looks at a specific sea turtle population in the Bijagós Archipelago of Guinea‐Bissau, located in west Africa.

UNESCO around 10,000 adult females lay their eggs in the region, making it "the most important site in Africa" for sea turtle development. Sea turtle eggs determine gender by the surrounding warmth. Looking at the airtight science of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the scientists broke down the sea turtle population chances into worst, average, and best case scenario.

This specific population has a few on-the-ground advantages. Decades of environmental protection have helped them create a safe environment for breeding, but females need to give birth to at least some males to continue on the species.

“[The population] has this unique habitat where the turtles can go and nest,” said lead author Ana Rita Patrício, a marine ecologist at the University of Exeter, tells . “And that will always, always, promote the growth of male turtles. So although climate change will contribute to feminization, we think that in this population, there will always be room for male turtles to be preserved, not like other ones.”

That being said, the population numbers do not look great. Within the three average scenarios, 80 percent of all hatchlings are female. The worst of these imagines a 98% percemt female population. Even with a population that has built in survival strategies, climate change things significantly.

The scientists "estimate that this population appears to have medium to high resistance under future expected climate change," according to the study. That's great news for these turtles, but not all populations are as lucky. Turtles from India to Utah are facing , and not all of them have birthing areas as secure as those off the west African coast.

Source:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Animals