Credit NOAA

Male green turtles almost non-existent in northern Great Barrier Reef

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

More than 99 per cent of baby green turtles born on the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) are girls, say Australian and US scientists who are warning that warming temperatures mean a complete lack of male turtles may be possible in the near future. In sea turtles, the sex of hatchlings is determined by the incubation temperature of the eggs and the proportion of females rises with rising temperatures. This study has found that 65–69 per cent of green turtles in the cooler southern GBR are now female while a staggering 87-99.8 per cent of green turtles in the warmer northern reef are females. The researchers say that their study suggests that northern GBR green turtle rookeries have been producing primarily females for more than two decades and that the complete loss of males in this population is possible in the near future.

Journal/conference: Current Biology

Organisation/s: Queensland Government, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA, Worldwide Fund for Nature-Australia

Funder: This research was facilitated through the Rivers to Reef to Turtles project (Worldwide Fund for Nature-Australia [WWF-Australia]), Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Parks. Funding was provided by the Raine Island Commission, WWF-Australia through philanthropic donations by Banrock Station Environmental Trust, and marine turtle assessment funding granted from NOAA Fisheries’ National Marine Fisheries Service. M.P.J. and C.D.A. were funded by the National Research Council (NRC) and Ocean Associates, Inc.

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