Too hot for our turtles
THE Mary River turtle - the endangered short-necked turtle that helped save the Mary River from the Traveston Crossing dam project - will suffer from a combination of physiological and behavioural problems if the climatic warming predicted for the area indeed happens, according to new research presented in the US.
The scientists behind the research incubated turtle eggs at 26, 29 and 32 degrees.
Young turtles which developed under the highest temperature showed reduced swimming ability and a preference for shallower waters.
“Deeper water not only provides the young turtles with protection from predators but is also where their food supply is found,” explains PhD researcher Mariana Micheli-Campbell.
“Young turtles with poor swimming abilities which linger near the surface are unable to feed and are very likely to get picked off by birds.
“These results are worrying as climate change predictions for the area suggest that nest temperatures of 32 degrees are likely to be reached in coming decades,” the researcher said.
The study will be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual conference in Glasgow.