TAMPA (WFLA) – In early April, Volusia County, Fla., marked it’s first turtle nest of the year and the earliest on record. Experts said the reason is warmer ocean waters are causing female turtles to come onshore earlier to lay their eggs.
This is not a one-time concern. In Florida and all over the world, warmer water, air and sand is disrupting the natural rhythms of sea turtles.
That’s because the sex of sea turtle offspring is determined by the temperature of the sand. All around the world oceans are warming due to human-caused climate change.
A few years ago, Florida Atlantic University completed a 10-year study on Sea Turtle hatchlings near Boca Raton. In 7 of the 10 years, 100% of the baby turtles were female.
This unexpected side effect of climate change is not confined to Florida. On Raine Island, in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the effect is even more apparent.
Raine Island is the largest Green Turtle nesting site in the Pacific Ocean with an estimated 60,000 turtles nesting there during peak season.
In a recent study, more than 99% of the offspring were found to be female.
Because turtles can live for a long time, this imbalance may not have immediate dire impacts, but experts say over time this will be detrimental to sea turtle populations.
Scientists said a potential solution to this problem is to manually use sea water to cool down the nests in the sand.