Tuesdays with Turtles – Climate change and nesting patterns

Turns out that in Guyana, nesting patterns are changing. Different types of sea turtles are showing up, and earlier than they used to. The earlier part can be explained by climate change, but the species distribution? I am sure there are other factors involved including habitat loss, poaching, etc. Anyway, interesting story.

Stabroek News

The changing nesting patterns of endangered sea turtles in Guyana, is alerting environmentalists to the impact of climate change on these marine animals.

The shell beaches in Region One have hosted thousands of nesting turtles over the years, and conservationists have been endeavouring to protect the turtles from heavy domestic use and from being traded.

Project Coordinator of the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society (GMTCS) Michelle Kalamandeen told Stabroek News recently that climate change is affecting the sea turtle population.

According to Kalamandeen, in the 1960s the Hawksbill (critically endangered) and the Olive-Ridley (endangered) were our main nesting turtles, now the green turtles (endangered) and the leatherbacks (critically endangered) are mostly coming to nest on Guyana’s shores. The Pacific Leatherback is said to be now extinct and the Atlantic Leatherback is facing extinction.

The change in the time period for nesting in Guyana, she said, may also be a significant sign.

Usually sea turtles nest in Guyana from March to August every year. However, for the last three to four years, says Kalamandeen, the nesting pattern has shifted from mid-January to mid-July. This may have a significant impact on the hatchlings as food availability may be an issue for them.

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