Most sea turtles now female in north Great Barrier Reef

Conservationists concerned at growing number of female sea turtles on Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Conservationists concerned at growing number of female sea turtles on Australia's Great Barrier Reef

A new study reveals increasing temperatures are turning green turtle populations nearly completely female in the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

Biologists consider 84.74 degrees Fahrenheit to be the pivotal temperature for green sea turtles to be born a mixture of female and males.

On the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, more than 99 percent of juvenile and young adult turtles are female.

While in the warmer northern tip of the Reef, female green turtles accounted for a staggering 87 to 99.8 per cent of the population.

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Unlike humans and most mammals, a green sea turtle's sex is determined by outside temperatures while they're still growing inside the egg.

Although scientists previously knew that warming temperatures alter the sex of sea turtle offspring, the new study is the first detailed look with direct documentation of the trend in a major wild population.

"Any variation on that of about one to two degrees, could risk producing all females or perhaps embryonic death". They live around the Great Barrier Reef and in it. The reader's can rely on the content at their own will. Mid-day accepts no responsibility or liability for its dependability, trustworthiness, reliability, data, text, images, video, messages, or any other material whatsoever or for any claims/loss/action that the reader may suffer as a result of relying on the content on our site.

The scientists calculated that the northern population has been delivering primarily females for more than 20 years, corresponding to rising temperatures in the region.

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The research, that was facilitated by the Rivers to Reef to Turtles project and led by WWF Australia, was published in the journal Current Biology. Among those born north of Cooktown, however, 99.1 percent of the juvenile turtles Jensen examined were female, along with 86.8 percent of adults. The results also raise new questions about the risks for marine turtles worldwide, as well as other temperature-dependent species including alligators and iguanas.

"While these turtles may be half a world away, action to reduce carbon emissions in the United Kingdom can play a vital role in limiting the impact of global warming on green turtles and countless other marine species", he said.

They say the artificial rain is going to cool the sand and shift the sex ratio towards an increase in males.

"It is clear that climate change poses a serious threat to the persistence of these populations".

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"Our study highlights the need for immediate management strategies aimed at lowering incubation temperatures at key rookeries", the researchers wrote, "to boost the ability of local turtle populations to adapt to the changing environment and avoid a population collapse - or even extinction".

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