Climate Change a Triple Whammy for Endangered Sea Turtles

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Climate Change a Triple Whammy for Endangered Sea Turtles

From Sea Turtle Restoration Project

An newly revised report about the threats to sea turtles from global warming and climate change was released today during international negotiations in Copenhagen by Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

Climate change due to global warming is a triple whammy for sea turtles and their unique life cycle:

  1. Rises in ocean levels mean that sandy beaches where sea turtles lay their nests are getting submerged under waves and water. This prevents adult sea turtles from returning to the beaches where they hatched to repeat their ancient nesting ritual.
  2. Hotter sand temperatures result in mostly female sea turtle hatchlings. Without enough males, the species cannot survive. And if the nest sand is much too hot, no eggs will hatch at all.
  3. Changes to ocean currents, temperature and acidification are likely to throw sea turtles far off normal migrations and alter food availability and abundance.


Leatherback sea turtles have been named one of the Top 10 species most threatened by climate change in the U. S. in a report titled “America’s Hottest Species.” Even now, we are beginning to see signs that increased global temperatures will have a devastating impact on sea turtles.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Climate change will have an impact on sea turtle populations and the people who share beaches and waters with them. This impact is magnified by the continued threats to sea turtles and human communities from industrial fishing, coastal development, and unsustainable direct harvest.

There are two main ways to reduce the impacts of climate change: reduce climate change emissions and strengthen the ability of endangered sea turtles and their ecosystems to survive climate change.

To reduce climate emissions, the U. S. and partner nations should lead the way to:

To strengthen the ability of endangered sea turtles to survive climate change, the U. S. should: