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
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.