Climate Change is nowadays one of the major treats to the planet’s biodiversity, next to habitat destruction, pollution and spreading of exotic species.
© Pedro Ferreira
Knowing the behaviour and biology of sea turtles, one can predict the impacts of climatic change upon the survival of these species. Loss of nesting and feeding areas due to the sea leve rise caused by the melting of polar caps; rise of sand temperature on nesting beaches may lead to a female biased sex-ratio, causing unbalanced sex-ratios of local sea turtles populations; rise of sea water temperature, which may cause alteration in the timing of the nesting season (situation that has been observed in some populations worldwide); coral bleaching, which will affect some species, in particular the hawksbill sea turtle; changes in oceanic currents, that may modify the sea turtles migratory behaviour and feeding habits.
It’s an unpleasant scenario but a real danger. A healthy environment is very important to sea turtles survival as well as all of the planet’s living creatures. A slight rise in temperature, even if it seems very little and insignificant, might cause a catastrophe to the sea turtles, acting directly in the sex determination of the hatchlings, incubation temperature and timing, hatching success rate, foraging ecology, turtle development, hibernation patterns and geographic distribution, not to mention their survival from extinction.