Climate change is making the gender gap in Florida worse. Recent heat waves have warmed the sand to such a degree that virtually all newborn turtles are female.
The National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asserts that it is indeed the temperature of developing eggs that determines the sex of sea turtles and alligators. A turtle’s eggs will hatch into male turtles if the temperature is below 81.86 degrees Fahrenheit (27.7 Celsius) and into female if the temperature is above 88.8 degrees Fahrenheit (31 Celsius).
The last four summers in Florida have been the warmest on record, according to Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the turtle hospital in Marathon, Florida Keys, and that is cause for alarm. Reuters quoted Zirkelbach as saying that over the previous four years, “scientists that are studying sea turtle hatchlings and eggs have found no male sea turtles, so only female sea turtles for the past four years.” He added that, according to an Australian study, 99 percent were females,.
Sea turtle keeper Melissa Rosales Rodriguez predicts that the population of turtles will drastically decline over time owing to a lack of genetic variation. The ratio of male to female turtles is too low for them to be able to reproduce, she claimed.