What's Hot: Rising sea temperatures causing Florida turtles to be born female
Experts say more Florida sea turtles are now being born female. It's also happening in Australia.
Here's why -- recent hotter summers have led to warmer sand on the beaches and the temperature of the developing eggs is what decides the sex of the sea turtles.
According to the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration, if a sea turtle egg incubates above 88.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the hatchlings will be female.
biologists have seen it for themselves. Over the past four summers, they have seen more female sea turtle hatchlings and a lot less male sea turtle hatchlings.
"The frightening thing is the last four summers in Florida have been the hottest summers on record," said Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, a city in the Florida Keys, which is a string of tropical islands stretching from the southern end of the state.
"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," Zirkelbach said, whose turtle center has operated since 1986.
The trend is just one of many signs that the climate crisis is interfering with the Earth's natural ecosystems, advancing too rapidly for many species to adapt.
When a female turtle digs a nest on a beach, the temperature of the sand determines the sex of the hatchlings. Zirkelbach said an Australian study showed similar statistics — "99% of new sea turtle babies are female."
Of course, without the males, there would eventually be no more baby turtles at all. And, without sea turtles, the natural order of the marine ecosystem would be entirely disrupted.