Climate change and loggerhead turtles

A recent report from the University of Exeter covers research undertaken on the effects of climate change on the turtles in Cape Verde. One of the largest population of loggerhead turtles in the world is found in Cape Verde. In summary the report considers that rising temperatures could result in male turtles ceasing to hatch. Dr Lucy Hawkes from the University stated ‘We estimate that 85% of the current hatchlings are female, and warmer temperatures will increase this proportion’.

On the basis of this research, together with statistics from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it is estimated that only 0.14% of the baby turtles in Cape Verde will be male by 2100. The gender of the turtle babies is determined by the temperature during incubation. This research was based upon observations of nesting loggerhead turtles.

Approximately 85% of the Cape Verde loggerhead turtles nest on the island of Boa Vista. Boa Vista has the coolest incubation temperatures. It is not known whether older turtles will continue to breed after male babies cease to hatch. The length of the reproductive ability of male turtles is not currently known. This research suggests the future of these creatures in Cape Verde is in jeopardy.