How Does Climate Change Affect Sea Turtles

How Does Climate Change Affect Sea Turtles

Climate change is an increasingly important issue for all species on the planet, including sea turtles. Sea turtles are considered an indicator species, meaning that changes in their environment can indicate changes in the wider climate. As a result, they serve as a powerful tool for environmental monitoring. Unfortunately, climate change is having a major impact on sea turtles, and these effects are likely to worsen in the future.

Temperature

The most visible effect of climate change on sea turtles is the increasing temperatures of their nesting beaches. Sea turtles nest on beaches, and their sex is determined by the temperature of the sand. Warmer temperatures can result in more female sea turtles being born, which can have an impact on the health of the population. In addition, warming temperatures can lead to increased nest predation, beach erosion, and other environmental changes that can be detrimental to sea turtles.

Habitat Loss

Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, which can lead to the loss of coastal habitats important for sea turtles. Rising ocean levels can result in the destruction of vital nesting beaches and the displacement of sea turtle populations. In addition, rising temperatures can lead to the degradation of coral reefs, which are an important source of food for many species of sea turtles.

Ocean acidification

Climate change is also having an effect on the ocean’s acidity levels. Ocean acidification is caused by an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, which is absorbed by the ocean. This process can make it difficult for sea turtles to absorb calcium, which is important for the development of their shells. In addition, ocean acidification can cause changes to the food webs that sea turtles rely on for sustenance.

Conclusion

Climate change is having a major impact on sea turtles, and these effects are likely to become more pronounced in the future. Rising temperatures can lead to an imbalance in sea turtle sex ratios, while rising ocean levels can result in the destruction of vital nesting beaches. In addition, ocean acidification can make it difficult for sea turtles to absorb calcium and can cause changes to food webs. It is critical that steps are taken to mitigate the effects of climate change in order to protect sea turtles and other species.