Australia's green turtle may become extinct, say report

Jan 10, 2018, 00:41
Australia's green turtle may become extinct, say report

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.

"While rising temperatures may initially result in increased female population sizes, the lack of male turtles will eventually impact the overall fertility of females in the population". When eggs hatch from sand that averaged 29ºC (84ºF) over the incubation period, they produce a 50-50 mix of males and females.

The transformation is causing concern scientists' about their future with just 0.2 per cent of the turtles are still male.

RISING temperatures mean more than 99 per cent of green sea turtles in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef are now female, researchers have warned.

Scientists who are behind the research are from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), California State University, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature Australia.

In the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, where sand temperatures are cooler, females still outpaced males, but by far less. A few up or down into the temperature can affect the natural balance of this species.

The study used an innovative combination of endocrinology and genetics to assess the sex of hundreds of turtles across a large foraging ground, revealing the sex ratio of immature and mature turtles from different nesting beaches over many years. Now a new report informed that change in climate has affected the green sea turtles in the Great Barrier Reef. While there was a moderate female sex bias of 65%-69% in turtles originating from the cooler nesting beaches in the south, turtles originating from warmer northern beaches were extremely female-biased.

"Realizing what the sex proportions in the grown-up reproducing populace are today, and what they may look like five, 10 and quite a while from now when these youthful turtles grow up and move toward becoming grown-ups, will be extraordinarily profitable".

For many reptiles, sex is determined not by chromosomes, but by the temperature at which their eggs are incubated. "We know that species evolve in response to climate and other environmental changes, but they need time for that".

ESCAPE: Discovering Maui's mountains and underwater world story, Kara Murphy - Ho'okipa Honu.Green Sea Turtles.

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