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All-female sea turtles born as temperature rises: 84 degrees starts phenomenon

All-female sea turtles: A very real possibility as the climate warms.
All-female sea turtles: A very real possibility as the climate warms.
Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

The climate warming is on the brink of producing all-female sea turtles, which means without the males, this is a species that could become extinct. Scientist have long known that the sea turtle is very sensitive to shifts in temperature and once the temperature hits 84 degrees and above, more female sea turtles are born than male, according to the Science Recorder on May 19.

Just a few degrees higher, at 87 degrees, the population will become completely female. It is when the temperatures go higher than 91 degrees that the embryos of both male and female don’t survive at all. The population of sea turtles may temporarily increase as the climate gets warmer, but once it hits that crucial 84 degree mark, the ratios of male to female change drastically.

This latest information is coming from a new study that was published Monday in the journal of Nature Climate Change. This study shows just how quickly the population of turtles can be wiped out through climate warming. Co-author of the study, Graeme Hays from Deakin University reports that while the study focused on one species of sea turtles, the results of this study “will apply to other species.”

According to the Nature World News, this study, which focused on the loggerhead turtle rookery in the Cape Verde Islands, offered some other interesting results. The lightness and darkness of the sand on the beach seem to interfere with the female to male birth ratio. Dark-colored sand saw a birth ration of about 93.5 percent female in comparison to 70.1 percent female births with the lighter-colored sand.

Does this go back to basic science where the lighter color reflects the sun and the darker color drinks in the heat and holds it? Is it the temperature of the sand providing the factor when producing these male to female ratios, rather than the color?

Hays suggests that this research could help when planning to build along the beaches saying, “If you have to build a hotel, build it behind the dark-colored beaches. He also said that it remains to be seen if the sea turtles, which have been on this earth for hundreds of millions of years, will be adaptable to the global temperatures warming.