Newborn Florida turtles are having a hot girl summer – in the worst way

Miami, Florida - Hotter temps brought on by climate change are causing nearly all Florida turtles to hatch female. Bet you didn't have that on your climate impacts bingo sheet!

Turtles in Florida are in for a tricky time as climate change increases the heat.
Turtles in Florida are in for a tricky time as climate change increases the heat.  © REUTERS

According to scientists observing Florida turtle hatchlings, the last four years have seen mainly female newborns, all thanks to climate change causing heatwaves, per The Guardian.

The National Ocean Service says that sand temps are what determines the sex of newborn turtles, and if the sand is consistently under 81.86 degrees Fahrenheit, newborns will mostly be male, while if the sand gets above 88.8 degrees, the hatchlings will be female.

Bette Zirkelbach, who manages the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida Keys, told Reuters, "The frightening thing is the last four summers in Florida have been the hottest summers on record. 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."

The real danger here is twofold, because on the one flipper, the little turtles will have a more difficult time finding a mate. With fewer males to go around, there won't be as much genetic diversity for the next generations of turtles.

And on the other flipper, climate change is pushing summer temperatures ever higher, so eggs soon might be in piping hot sand, putting the unborn animals in lethal danger.

The impacts of climate change are hitting the ocean particularly hard, and changes to newborn turtles is just one example of what's to come.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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