Together with Nicole Esteban we have a nice paper out on #oceanoptimism:

Climate change impacts clearly threaten many species. Sea turtles are a flagship conservation group and one major threat of climate warming is the feminisation of populations which may occur since all species have temperature dependent sex determination with female hatchlings being produced at warmer temperatures. This concern of warming impacts has been articulated in many high impact papers1-2. Yet few studies take a step further to investigate viable and practical conservation actions. Our manuscript addresses this important issue through a series of experiments to assess the effectiveness of practical, low-cost and low technology artificial shading materials to decrease sand temperatures at sea turtle nesting depths.

We show how artificial shading and relocation can decrease nest temperatures by up to 2.5°C and we summarise our results in a conservation mitigation matrix that can be used across the globe.


Figure 1

Figure above: Three different shading techniques were used to cool sand temperatures at mean hawksbill and green turtle nest depth (50 cm). The maximum difference between sand temperatures recorded under the white cotton sheet (a) and corresponding control temperatures was 0.26 °C. The maximum difference between sand temperatures recorded under the white sand (b) and control temperatures was 0.28 °C. The maximum difference between sand temperatures recorded under the palm leaves (c) and control temperatures was 0.40 °C. This pilot experiment ran from 18 June 2012 until 21 June 2012 and provides a conservative estimate as the temperature differences between controls and shading treatments were expected to increase further after these 3 days.

Optimism for mitigation of climate warming impacts for sea turtles through nest shading and relocation” published by Scientific Reports (2018) here. Authors: Nicole Esteban, Jacques-Olivier Laloë, Fionne S.P.L. Kiggen, Selma M. Ubels, Leontine E. Becking, Erik Meesters, Jessica Berkel, Graeme C. Hays & Marjolijn J.A. Christianen. Scientific Reports(2018),

Below: Green turtle hatchling about to head out to sea. (photo courtesy of Banco de Imagem – Projeto Tamar)

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