Climate change is predicted to increase global temperatures, which would increase sand, water and air temperature. These all can have an impact on turtle biology and ecology. Marine turtle eggs are very sensitive to temperature changes in sand. The sex of turtle eggs is determined by the temperature at which they are incubated, so higher temperatures can lead to increased numbers of female turtles in relation to males, however, if temperatures rise too much then embryos will die. Other impacts could include decreased food supplies and changes to timing of breeding.
What we are doing:
We are working to ensure that marine turtles are included in climate change discussions at state, national and international levels.
We are monitoring sand temperatures on beaches across the whole of WA, this will let us know how temperatures are changing and enable us to model potential future nesting sites, as well as predict changes to current rookeries. Current research is looking at what the crucial temperature ranges for flatbacks at different rookeries in the Pilbara and Kimberley are. It will assess pivotal temperatures that determine the numbers of female versus male hatchlings and critical temperature ranges for survival.
Research is also going into physiological adaptations to temperature of turtles from different rookeries. Blair Bently is a PhD student with the University of Western Australia, working on a project with North West Shelf Flatbacks. Find out more on Blair's research.
What you can do:
There are many websites with advice on how to reduce your own impact on climate change. Not all solutions will work for everyone, but there will be some simple steps that you can choose that will work for you. The great thing about many of the ideas is that they give you economic or social benefits too.
* Most of us can reduce the energy we use at home or work, by simple things such as turning off lights in rooms when not in use (this may have the added bonus of reducing light pollution at nesting beaches if you live close to one) or switching appliances off at the wall. This will also reduce your living costs.
* Others may be able to walk, ride, use public transport or ride-share to reduce transport costs. Alternative ideas include sharing more and consuming less goods, or growing your own food locally, in your own backyard or setting up a community garden. This can connect you more to your environment and community.