Peo­ple power key to tur­tles

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

RIS­ING sea lev­els are likely to prove a “tur­tle dis­as­ter” and peo­ple power may be re­quired to en­sure their sur­vival, Queens­land sci­en­tists have found.

An experiment has shown green sea tur­tle em­bryos are much more likely to die when they are in­side eggs that go un­der wa­ter for six hours.

Sci­en­tists say the study shows the tur­tles, which rely on low- ly­ing coastal habi­tats, are likely to feel the early im­pacts of ris­ing sea lev­els.

“In some places it only takes a small rise in sea lev­els, when com­bined with a storm or a king tide, to in­un­date what had pre­vi­ously been se­cure nest­ing sites,” said lead re­searcher Dr David Pike of James Cook Univer­sity.

The study used eggs from a green sea tur­tle hatch­ery on Queens­land’s Raine Is­land, which were ex­posed to salt­wa­ter for vary­ing amounts of time.

Sci­en­tists found the eggs in­un­dated for one or three hours showed no sig­nif­i­cant level of mor­tal­ity. How­ever those un­der wa­ter for six hours re­sulted in a 40 per cent in­crease in em­bryo deaths.

Dr Pike said this meant vol­un­teers may be needed to phys­i­cally move nests fur­ther in­shore to save the species.

“We might be able to save them with peo­ple power,” he said.

A green sea tur­tle hatch­ing on Raine Is­land.

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