Turtle populations in the Red Sea could be turning overwhelmingly female because of a rise in sea temperatures caused due to anthropogenic climate change, a new study has showed.
A team of researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia selected five sites across the region that were favoured by hawksbill and green turtles, a statement by the university said December 3, 2020.
Sand temperature data at the nest depths of both species were collected by automated data loggers every 15 minutes for five months — May to September 2018.
The Red Sea is home to five out of seven species of sea turtles. In order to maintain a 50:50 ratio of males and females in the population, a temperature of 29.2 degrees Celsius is pivotal. Above this, hatchlings would be predominantly female.
The sand temperatures at four of the sites exceeded 29.2 degrees, leading the team to the conclusion that ‘feminisation’ of the population could be already happening.
Titled Potential feminization of Red Sea turtle hatchlings as indicated by in situ sand temperature profiles, the study was published in Conservation Science and Practice.