Sea turtles are one of the most exquisite creatures in the marine world. But their life has not been very happy for the past couple of years, given global warming and climate change. Turtles belong to the class of reptiles which live on both land and water, and when any of these two habitats take a hit, Turtles are affected badly. They affect climate change has had on their life-cycle is devastating. Climate change is causing sea turtle disappearances.
Destruction of Terrestrial Habitat
The rising water levels are causing beaches to disappear. The temperature of these nesting beaches is heavily altered. Turtles rely on the temperature of the sand, which determines the gender of the hatchling in the nest. The eggs in a cooler temperature give a male, while the eggs in a warmer temperature give females. With the increase in the global temperature, scientists predict that there will be more females than male hatchlings, which is a major threat to their genetic diversity.
Even the oceans are getting warmer, which is affecting their food supplies. Coral reefs, which are an important food source for the turtles, are under threat. There is no doubt about the heavy consequences the bleaching of coral reefs will have on the turtle species. 6 species of turtles are already on the endangered species list. 50% of the corals in the Caribean region are lost, given the rising temperature. There have been recoveries in many parts of the world, a full recovery is going to take decades.
The past decade saw floods, cyclones, and typhoons, which was the most devastating mankind has ever seen. One can not eliminate the devastation caused to marine life. The storms destroy the beaches, the warming ocean is changing the ocean current patterns, not only harming the coral reefs but introducing the turtle to new predators. Our climate itself has become a threat to the entire male- population of the turtles, affecting their sex-ratios, driving them to their extinction, where there is no point of return.
Global warming has already caused a massive change in the wind and ocean patterns, and the effect on marine life is disastrous. Given such circumstances, it is easy to understand that the marine ecosystem is taking a major hit, which will endanger not only the billion marine lives but humans, sooner than they expected. A recent study in Australia found that 99% of the green sea turtles in Raine Island were females.
Change in Ocean Currents
Sea turtles navigate in the water to find their food, hence the changing temperature and changing water current pattern must have become a roller coaster for them. The migration of many animal species is heavily impacted, which has altered the distribution of predator and prey. Hence many animals have been making an appearance in times and parts of the world they were never expected. Climate change is causing sea turtles to disappear and no one can deny that.
When talking about the species affected by climate change, the list of species becomes pretty long as it contains all the species. Yes. All species are currently affected. Given that climate change and global warming can be reversed, and the fact that we have the power to do it, there have been open discussions about how we can change what is happening. Not to mention the illegal trade of marine turtles has been happening around the world. A report by WWF talks about this issue.
What Can We Do
Reducing, recycling, and reusing all plastic, paper, and glass waste is an important step to ensure the marine ecosystem remains clean. Energy efficiency should also be practised as much as possible, given the fossil fuels are only adding up to the amount of carbon dioxide present in the environment. Energy-saving transportations are also a must. Think of it as, when you bike to work today, you actually helped a kid breathe a little cleaner air.
Finally, the major change has to come from the industries, switching to sustainable options, and ditching fossil fuels. Lawmakers should encourage their citizens to live sustainable lives.
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