Anders Bekeken

100 Places To Remember: The Caribbean Sea

Geschreven op 26-5-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Natuur Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

100places to rememberOne of the Oldest Species on Earth. Sea turtles have been around for tens of millions of years. The males spend their entire lives in the ocean. The females venture onto beaches for a few hours once or twice every second year, lay their eggs in holes 40-50 cm deep and cover them with sand before promptly returning to the sea.

Despite living in most of the tropical and subtropical waters around the world, several types of sea turtle are registered as endangered species. Four of these one of them the hawksbill turtle live in the Caribbean, where they feed and mate among the corals and nestle on the sandy beaches around the rim of the sea, from Barbados in the east to Mexico in the west, from Florida in the north to Colombia in the south.

At about a metre long and weighing up to 120 kg, the hawksbill is one of the smaller sea turtles. Considered a delicacy, it has been hunted for centuries. Now, global warming poses a new threat to its survival.

Rising sea levels and temperatures, acidification of the oceans and more extreme weather events could start to destroy the coral reefs where the turtles live, forage and mate, and erode the beaches where the females nest. This would pose a serious threat to them. Although capable of migrating for thousands of kilometres and taking up to 30 years to mature, sea turtles always return to the beach where they were born to mate and nest.

Higher sand temperature presents another threat. The turtles have no sex chromosomes, so the ambient temperature of the sand determines whether hatchlings are born male or female. The hotter the sand, the shorter the incubation and the more likely the hatchling will be female. In other words, hotter sand might result in a drastic decline in the number of male turtles, which would pose a severe threat to the survival of one of the oldest living animal species on the planet.

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