TUR­TLES AND CLI­MATE CHANGE

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The im­pact that cli­mate change has had on the Great Bar­rier Reef, es­pe­cially in co­ral bleach­ing, has been heav­ily re­ported, but the change in tem­per­a­tures is also hav­ing an ef­fect on the re­gion’s fa­mous green tur­tles.

Re­search by Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity and the World Wide Fund for Na­ture Aus­tralia has re­vealed the gen­der of tur­tles hatched in the warmer north­ern Great Bar­rier Reef is al­most ex­clu­sively fe­male, due to the hot­ter con­di­tions.

This skewed gen­der ra­tio could have sig­nif­i­cant ram­i­fi­ca­tions for tur­tle breed­ing in the fu­ture.

The re­search also re­veals that ex­treme in­cu­ba­tion tem­per­a­tures also cause high mor­tal­ity among de­vel­op­ing clutches.

Even though thou­sands of tur­tles are hatched ev­ery year through­out the Great Bar­rier Reef’s is­lands, only about one in 1000 baby tur­tles ac­tu­ally makes it to adult­hood, with the vast ma­jor­ity be­ing preyed on by birds or by other forms of ma­rine life.

This means that the tur­tles hatched in the south­ern reef, in­clud­ing on Lady El­liot Is­land, will play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in fu­ture years.

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