With no action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, could out-of-control sea level rise and warmer waters submerge the famous mermaid in Copenhagen and allow sea turtles to summer in Denmark? Such a scenario may not be that far-fetched.
The new report Boiling Point by Turtle Island Restoration Network points out that climate change due to global warming is a triple whammy for declining sea turtles. Climate change is already taking a toll on the leatherback sea turtle in Costa Rica due to hot sands and submerged beaches. And in places like remote Northwestern Australia – close to the Timor oil spill, — Chevron and other oil companies are destroying flatback nesting beaches and building new fossil fuel projects that will add millions of tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and oceans.
- Rises in ocean levels mean that sandy beaches where sea turtles lay their nests are getting submerged under waves and water. This prevents adult sea turtles from returning to the beaches where they hatched to repeat their ancient nesting ritual.
- Hotter sand temperatures result in mostly female sea turtle hatchlings. Without enough males, the species cannot survive. And if the nest sand is much too hot, no eggs will hatch at all.
- Changes to ocean currents, temperature and acidification are likely to throw sea turtles far off normal migrations and alter food availability and abundance.
- These negative impacts are magnified by the continued threats to sea turtles and human communities from industrial longline and trawl fishing, coastal development, and unsustainable direct harvest.