Most Florida sea turtles are female, and it’s all because of the hot sand

Climate change is affecting the sex balance of sea turtles.

Rising temperatures The past four years in Florida have resulted in disproportionate numbers of female sea turtles being hatched, perhaps up to 99% of all eggs laid.

Unlike many animals, the sex of a sea ​​turtle It is not known when the egg is fertilized. Instead, whether you get a male or a female, it all depends on the temperature of the ground in which the eggs are incubated. If it’s below 81.86 degrees Fahrenheit, they’ll be male, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. Anything above 88.8 degrees and they are female. (If the sand temperature hovers between those two ranges, it’s a combination of sexes for the eggs.)

Florida, meanwhile, has experienced its hottest summer since 2018, resulting in a higher percentage of offspring, which could have devastating effects on the species in the years to come.

Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Fla., said: “Scientists were studying sea turtles that hatched eggs and didn’t find male sea turtles, so there were only female sea turtles for four years. via” told Reuters.

It’s not just Florida. An Australian study found similar gender disparities.

All turtles, including sea turtles, dig their nests in the summer, usually in June or July. Eggs spend two to three months incubating before they hatch.

Hot sand is hardly the only thing affecting this species. Pollution, beach erosion and habitat loss have also reduced sea turtle populations in recent years. Many beach towns have begun identifying turtle nesting spots and closing areas on the beach to protect the eggs.

But when it comes to soaring temperatures, there’s very little volunteers can do.

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