Sydney, Feb 19 (IANS) Scientists have sounded the alarm over the mounting threat to marine turtle populations worldwide from climate change and coastal development.
The scientists have made a strong pitch for protecting key nesting grounds, and areas that may be suitable for the purpose in the future, to ensure that the marine reptiles have a better chance of withstanding climate change.
Turtles play a significant role in seed dispersal and ecology. They act as scavengers of the marine ecosystem, cleaning up a lot of dying, dead and decaying plant and animal matter.
"We have to protect their nesting sites and to address threats such as by catch and coastal development," said Mariana Fuentes from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and James Cook University, the journal Global Change Biology reports.
"We have seen sea turtle populations decline dramatically in recent decades, and it is likely to get worse due to climate change, as they're particularly vulnerable to it," said Fuentes, who led the study, according to a CoERCS statement.
Reportedly, some turtle populations in the West Indian Ocean, Northeast Indian Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, East Atlantic Ocean and the East Pacific Ocean are among the least likely to recover from the impacts of climate change.
"Climate change can affect their nesting beaches through sea level rise, stronger cyclones and storms; high temperatures can cause their eggs to die before they hatch, or produce an unnatural sex ratio and adversely affect their food sources," added Fuentes.