Climate change will affect every aspect of our lives, including weather (storms, droughts), agriculture (changes in food supply), health (tropical diseases moving northward), availability of fresh water, erosion of coastlines, and so on. Share your concerns with policy-makers, and do your part by reducing your energy use. Walk or bike instead of driving, turn off lights and electrical equipment when not in use, fly as little as possible, and recycle as much as you can! The time to act is now, and everyone has a role to play in caring for our planet during this important time in human history.
Sea turtles rely on a variety of habitats as they mature, including sandy beaches, nearshore foraging grounds (e.g., coral reefs, seagrass), and oceanic frontal systems and gyres. In addition to the loss and degradation of these habitats to coastal development, shipping and fisheries, recreation and pollution, etc., climate change will bring new survival challenges. The turtles' dependence on multiple, inter-linked habitats makes them ideal flagship species for examining the impacts of climate change on coastal and marine ecosystems.
Aspects of climate change could affect sea turtles in numerous ways. For example, temperature influences many aspects of marine turtle life behavior and distribution, from adult distribution to sex ratios of hatchlings. Extreme weather events, sea-level rise and ocean acidification all have the potential to change foraging and nesting grounds. In the past, abundant marine turtle populations probably adapted well to climatic change both behaviorally and genetically through natural selection. Today, populations of these species are severely depleted, human pressures constrain their recovery, and the pace of environmental change is unprecedented.
Share your concerns with policy-makers! The time to act is now, and everyone has a role to play in caring for our planet during this important time in human history. There are several communication and outreach tools available to you, and links are provided under "Outreach Tools" below. We will also do our best to keep you abreast of academic publications (see "References", below) related to the science of sea turtles and climate change.
If you manage a sea turtle research or conservation project, monitor changes (e.g., width, slope) in your nesting beaches. Through regular coastal monitoring, information is produced that can inform policy and can be used in evaluating the short and long term benefits (or consequences) of management action taken to enhance the resilience of coastal habitats to climate change. To guide your efforts, step-by-step handbooks are available (see left sidebar).
Given the uncertainty about sea turtles' capacity to respond in a timely fashion to the unprecedented changes currently underway, the Adaptation to Climate Change for Marine Turtles (ACT) project of the World Wildlife Fund recommends a precautionary approach that implements measures designed to increase the resilience of sea turtles and their habitats. Among their recommendations are the following: