The loss of nesting beaches
Magnetic maps of their hatching site are ingrained into sea turtles' minds, allowing them to be able to return to the exact location at which they hatched, even decades later, to repeat their ancient nesting ritual. Due to global warming, ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising, which affects the nesting beaches at which sea turtles lay their eggs. Some of these beaches are disappearing under the rising sea level, making it difficult, if not impossible, for sea turtles to make their way back to these nesting beaches.
The threat to genetic diversity
The incubation temperature for turtles produces roughly equal numbers of male and female hatchlings. With the rising temperature of the sand in the nesting beaches, the incubation temperature rises, causing the ratio to no longer be 1:1. This could cause the population to plummet due to an abnormally large amount of a certain gender.
“The shift in our climate is shifting turtles as well, because as the temperature of their nests change, so do their reproduction patterns." -Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.
What can we do?
The best thing we can do is to protect sea turtles from already known harms, such as poaching and fisheries. We can also take steps into reducing our carbon footprint in order to combat global warming and prevent the sea level as well as temperatures of the nesting beach from rising too significantly.
“To help sea turtle populations cope with unknown future threats, one of the best things we can do is protect them from existing known harm — fisheries mortality being one of the most grave.” -National Geographic