SAVE THE TUR­TLES

AS YOU WATCH THE GREEN SEA TUR­TLES EMERGE FROM THE SANDS AND CRAWL TO­WARDS THE OCEAN TO HATCH NEAR THE BEACHES AT RAS AL JINZ, YOU MIGHT THINK THAT THE SPECIES ARE FLOUR­ISH­ING AND ARE WITH­OUT FEAR. HOW­EVER, ON DELV­ING DEEPER, ONE FINDS THAT SOME OF THE SP

HI Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - STORY MAQ­SOOD MANIYAR

CLI­MATE CHANGE

Global warm­ing has caused the po­lar ice caps to melt and sea lev­els to rise. This has led to flood­ing of the beaches and de­struc­tion of the tur­tle nests.

Re­cently, a study found that about 99 per cent of hatch­lings of a green sea tur­tle sub-pop­u­la­tion off the coast of the great bar­rier reef near Aus­tralia were fe­males. Some sci­en­tists sus­pect that this fem­i­ni­sa­tion might lead to ex­tinc­tion of the species.

More­over, ex­perts have warned that global warm­ing is caus­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ately higher num­ber of fe­male tur­tles to be hatched world­wide. This is be­cause warmer nests lead to male tur­tles be­ing born while cooler ones yield fe­male hatch­lings.

“Global warm­ing is af­fect­ing the sexes of sea tur­tles all over the world. As the tem­per­a­tures rise the tem­per­a­ture of the nests will rise too. The nests will pro­duce males but at a lower rate. Over time there will be a huge re­duc­tion in pop­u­la­tion,” said Daniel Sch­nei­der, chief bi­ol­o­gist at Quixote Cu­rios­ity.

An­drew Will­son, a ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist from 5 Oceans En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices (5OES), an en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tancy and con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion lo­cated in the Sul­tanate, said that there are mul­ti­ple fac­tors at play that af­fect ex­tinc­tion of tur­tles in the back­drop of cli­mate change.

“The is­sue of the tur­tle pop­u­la­tion not get­ting ex­tinct is also re­lated to the in­ter­play be­tween adap­tion and how ro­bust the pop­u­la­tion is. If the pop­u­la­tion and its habi­tats are well man­aged with few im­pacts then you are giv­ing the pop­u­la­tion ev­ery chance you can to sur­vive.

“What we don’t know is if the pop­u­la­tion will be able to adapt fast enough to the rate of changes cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enced and pro­jected for the fu­ture. We know that the tur­tles have been around for a cou­ple of hun­dred mil­lion years and have sur­vived through cli­mate change be­fore — but as far as we know the rate of change now is faster than pre­vi­ous events,” he said.

“What con­ser­va­tion bi­ol­o­gists are im­me­di­ately con­cerned about are the pop­u­la­tion that are de­clin­ing and have been con­sid­ered en­dan­gered or crit­i­cally en­dan­gered. These are go­ing to be the pop­u­la­tion who would be at risk the most ow­ing to cli­mate change re­lated threats and would re­quire ur­gent at­ten­tion,” he added.

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