According to Reuters, scientists have hardly observed any male sea turtle hatch in Florida for several years due to record temperatures.
Roughly 99% of all baby sea turtles being born in the state are now female—and they say it’s all because of record temperatures due to climate change.
“The frightening thing is the last four summers in Florida have been the hottest summers on record,” Bette Zirkelbach told Reuters.
“Scientists that are studying sea turtle hatchlings and eggs have found no boy sea turtles, so only female sea turtles for the past four years,” said Zirkelbach, who manages a turtle hospital in the Florida Keys.
The alarming discovery extends far beyond Florida.
According to Zirkelbach, researchers in Australia have reported similar findings, with an estimated 99% of the sea turtles hatched there during the past five years being female.
That may be disastrous for sea turtle populations in the near future, who already face serious risks to their very existence from poaching and habitat devastation.
Males can emerge from sea turtle eggs that incubate below 81.86 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Ocean Service. Female hatchlings are formed through incubation at temperatures over 88.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Fluctuating temperatures can result in either.
The issue is that temperatures aren’t actually fluctuating; instead, they only appear to be rising.
If the trend continues, sea turtle populations worldwide will be more threatened than ever. And humans could be next.
“Over the years, you’re going to see a sharp decline in their population because we just don’t have the genetic diversity,” said Melissa Rosales Rodriguez, a sea turtle keeper at the Miami Zoo.
“We don’t have the male-to-female ratio needed in order to be able to have successful breeding sessions,” Rodriguez warned.
To make matters even worse, the National Ocean Service has issued a warning that the rising temperatures could end up killing all of the sea turtles, which would mean that there might not be any new hatchlings at all for a long time.
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