Concentrate on PR[purple], W[green], C[orange]
It was 50 days ago that I laid my eggs. I waddled up this very beach with a heavy belly, carrying the future of sea turtles. Even though I traveled very far from this beach, I felt a magnetic attraction, calling me back to this coast. My legs work through the toughness of the sand; I slowly trek until I reach the final destination. Anticipation fills every being in my body. It could be any second that my eggs hatch.[BJF1] In the oblivion of my excitement I have failed to realize one thing- my nest is surrounded by humans. In a sudden burst- Crack, crack, crack- shells break. I look into my nest, and a closed eyed turtle starts slowly braking the rest of its shell, its flippers slowly make their way out, followed by the rest of their body.
As I walk up to approach my new child, I am thrown back. A giant hand swooshes down and takes my child from me. I panic, I run over the rest of the turtles, protecting them as best as I can. But, hands keep swooping down. I start to shake; I retreat my head back into my shell hoping to come up with a plan. I cannot think, anger and fear for the life of my children riddle my every thought. Humans ruin everything. I pop my head out, my motherly instinct sinks in; I must get my kids to the ocean before they are harmed. I Look up and to my surprise, the humans have disappeared and left the newly hatched turtles back on the sand. A wave of relief enables me to move again to confront my new children.
There they stand in the sand- fresh eyed and small. I direct them to the sea[BJF2] , all 100 of them. One by one, they slowly wade through the sand in a frantic squirm. We reach the water, gradually Deeping ourselves into the water. I look behind me to make sure they are all following. Needing no instructions, they take their first swim. The movement of their gait is slow and awkward; we eventually make it deep into the ocean. I wonder what is going through their minds, everything is new. <GOOD DETAIL
One sea turtle chirps, which is accompanied by 60 other chirps. I look at them to analyze what they need and I realize something strange- all my children are girls. Out of my 100 children, absolute none of them are boys. This is exactly the situation I have feared my whole life. It took me twenty years to find a mate and breed. Not because I am unwanted, but because it took me twenty years to find a male partner. Everywhere I traveled, I was greeted with female friendships. It was rare to encounter a male. All of my friends have had the same struggle, most of them got too old to breed by the time they found a mating partner. I was considered lucky. The ocean has progressively become dominated by females. None of us know how, but some have guessed due to the warming of the water, or the sands. I look at my children with extreme grief, most of them will not be able to mate; they will never feel the joy of birthing a new generation. They are destined for an isolated future, eventually dying alone without family.
As I stare at my children, I realize I have been selfish. This whole time I am worrying about the livelihood of my children, completely ignoring the generations of sea turtles to come. Most of my friends who have bred, have had similar results as me. If this continues to be a pattern, my species will vanish. The thought lays a huge weight on me; I know there needs to be a change, but I don’t know how. I have no power; female sea turtles do not have enough influence to change their whole species. Knowing the future is doomed, I swim ahead with my children, leading them into a bleak and dead future.
As the sea turtle predicted, a dead future is the current destiny for the sea turtle population. Just as in the story, female sea turtles are becoming more prevalent than their male counterparts due to global warming. The effects of having female turtles wholly outnumber the male population will destroy the sea turtle population. Since sea turtles are both land and sea creatures, the effects of climate change impact them tremendously.
[BJF3] The increasing beach temperatures impacts sea turtle nesting. Unlike humans, sea turtles do not have an X and a Y chromosome, their sex is determined by embryotic development and can easily be affected by environmental factors. 1 Typically, the eggs in the lower, cooler, part of the nest will become males, while the eggs in the upper, warmer, part of the nest will become female. With the increasing temperatures, scientists predict that there will be more females than males, threatening the genetic diversity of the species. 2
The loss of genetic diversity is not a hit that the sea turtle species can take. For example, Loggerhead sea turtles already have to nest “for more than 10 nesting seasons over 20 to 30 years just to replace herself and possibly one mate”. It is already extremely difficult for sea turtles to repopulate their current population. If the temperatures continue to rise, the sex ratios of the sea turtles and their ability to reproduce will be dramatically impacted. 1<DOC
A skewed sex ratio is not the only problem affecting sea turtles due to climate change, the rising sea levels are also destroying nesting beaches. As the sea levels rise, beaches start to disappear. As national geographic points out, “It’s hard enough for turtles to find suitable egg-laying beaches now, as real-estate development spreads along coastlines, let alone in a future when seas may be several feet higher”. 5 Sea turtles cannot easily pick a new beach to hatch their eggs. Sea turtle’s memories are “imprinted” with a magnetic map of where they hatch. That way, they are able to return to the same beach decades later and “Repeat their ancient nesting ritual.” 2 Therefore, if the temperature continues to increase and if sea level continues to rise, sea turtles will also lose nesting grounds, eventually diminishing their population.
As if the changing sex rations and limited nesting grounds weren’t enough, warmer ocean temperatures are also negatively impacting major food resources for sea turtles. Coral reefs are a major source, and they are also dying out. Because of the higher temperatures, coral reefs are suffering from a “bleaching” effect, “expelling the colorful algae that live within them,” and eventually killing off parts of the reef. 6 Bleaching events are on the rise, effectively dwindling the food available to sea turtles.
Turtles will not be the only ones affected by the rising sea turtles. <EGREGIOUS ERROR Nearly half of the human population lives within 200 km of coasts 3 . The livelihood and ^^^ economy of many cities is determined by fishing and tourism. At the current rate of sea level rise of 2 mm a year, by 2100 many major cities like New York, London, and Shanghai could have extreme flooding, beaches and coastal lands could be destroyed. 4
In order to reverse the current ill-fated future of sea turtles, there needs to be a change. Sea Turtles cannot change their fate, but humans can. Simple steps like purchasing energy efficient appliances, reducing waste, and making smarter choices when it comes to transportation, can create a positive impact on temperature and the environment. If anything, knowledge is power. Spread the word on the problems the sea turtles and the globe are facing; “collective influence can force change.” 2
Word count: 1458
Without quotes: 1411
Turtles Mating: http://mpo.photoshelter.com/image/I0000dOcHWiK61XA
Flooded beach: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6254
Reduce, reuse, recycle: http://www.tvwatershed.org/reduce-reuse-recycle/
1 Mathewson, Samantha. "Sea Turtles, Reproduction and Climate Change: Warmer Temperatures Impact Hatchlings." Nature World News. N.p., 18 Oct. 2015. Web.<URL NEEDED 20 Nov. 2016.
2 "Threats to Sea Turtles | Climate Change | Sea Turtle Conservancy." Sea Turtle Conservancy. Sea Turtle Conservancy, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016
3 "Sea Turtles Threatened by Rising Seas." World Wildlife Fund for Nature. N.p., 10 Sept. 2007. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
4 Thead, Erin. "Sea Level Rise: Risk and Resilience in Coastal Cities." Climate Institute. N.p., 11 Oct. 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
5 Warne, Kennedy. "Climate Change Will Test Turtles' Mettle." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.
6 "Global Warming and Coral Reefs - National Wildlife Federation." National Wildlife Federation. National Wildlife Federation, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016.