Science and Health

Scientists Say Too Many Sea Turtles Are Born Female — Here's Why

Climate change is warming the ocean, and scientists say that could lead to the complete feminization of some sea turtle populations.

Scientists Say Too Many Sea Turtles Are Born Female — Here's Why
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Warm water near the Great Barrier Reef is apparently resulting in almost entirely female births among sea turtles.

Researchers from the U.S. and Australian governments found out that sea turtles mating in the northern Great Barrier Reef were producing about 99 percent female offspring. They say the complete feminization of that population is possible.

A sea turtle's sex isn't determined by genetics like a human's. Instead, the water temperature around the embryo decides that. If the temperature gets above a certain point, the baby sea turtle will be female.

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The study found that the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, where the water is cooler, produced a more balanced percentage: somewhere around 65 percent female, depending on the age group.

The study mentions climate change as the culprit and says nesting temperatures for sea turtles has to be lowered or the species could eventually go extinct.