Already the most critically endangered of all sea turtle species thanks to poaching and fishing impacts, new research led by Dr. Vincent Saba, a research fishery biologist with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Fisheries Science Center, suggests that climate change could impede leatherback sea turtles’ ability to recover.
The resulting projections indicate that warmer, drier years will become increasingly frequent in Central America throughout this century. High egg and hatchling mortality associated with warmer, drier beach conditions was the most significant cause of the projected climate-related population decline: This nesting population of leatherbacks could decline by 7 percent per decade, or 75 percent overall by the year 2100.
The population is already critically low.
“In 1990, there were 1,500 turtles nesting on the Playa Grande beach,” said Dr. James Spotila, the Betz Chair Professor of Environmental Science in the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel. “Now, there are 30 to 40 nesting females per season.”
…Spotila’s research team is already investigating methods such as watering and shading turtle nests that could mitigate the impact of hot, dry beach conditions on hatching success….More at Rising heat at the beach threatens largest sea turtles, climate change models show (ScienceDaily)