From the day they’re hatched, a sea turtle’s life is a struggle for survival. For every 1,000 sea turtle eggs laid, only about one turtle reaches adulthood due to natural predators and other obstacles. Those that do make it face numerous threats from humans. For example, they’re hunted in some regions for their meat, eggs and shells. Their beach habitats get developed. Harmful marine debris and oil spills pollute their waters and beaches.
Now, climate change is exposing sea turtles to even greater existential threats. Sea level rise and stronger storms will erode and destroy their beach habitats. Warming oceans will change ocean currents, potentially introducing sea turtles to new predators and harming the coral reefs some of them need to survive.
Since the temperature of the beach sand that female sea turtles nest in influences the sex of their offspring during incubation, our warming climate may be driving sea turtles into extinction by creating a shortage of males, according to several studies.
— Alan Buis/NASA's Global Climate Change website