People power key to turtles
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.