Sea Turtles and Climate Change

We took a fun little field trip the other day to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on nearby Jekyll Island. The center was established in 2007 and built inside of an old power plant. They have rehabilitated and released hundreds of stranded and injured sea turtles and work to educate the public about how to protect them. Here are a few of the “patients” we saw while we were there:

Loggerhead sea turtles are threatened by a variety of human factors, including roads and ocean debris, but they are also vulnerable to climate change for a surprising reason. The sex of a sea turtle is determined by the temperature of the egg during its development. Since turtles dig deep holes on sandy beaches to lay their eggs, the eggs laid deepest are kept at lower temperatures are more likely to turn out male. The eggs laid closer to the surface don’t stay as cool and more often end up being female. As the air and oceans warm scientists worry that populations of turtles could slowly come to have too many females relative to males, and would therefore slowly die out. You can read more about this threat here.