June 16 is World Sea Turtle Day

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SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan will present details of a research initiative to enhance our understanding of the conditions that promote a greater proportion of male hatchlings. The June 16th 3pm presentation will be held at the Bailey Homestead Preserve pavilion on Sanibel.

Did you know the sex of a sea turtle hatchling is determined by its nest temperature? Hotter nests produce females, and cooler nests produce males.

Over the last decade, the vast majority of Florida’s sampled loggerhead hatchlings have been female. That has led to a concern in the scientific community about the species’ ability to adapt to rising temperatures. Over three years, the ratio of males ranged from only 10-20% in the total hatchling population.

Clearly, this disproportionate male-to-female sex ratio does not bode well for the long-term reproduction and survival of sea turtles.

Research has already proven that a sea turtle’s sex is determined by the temperature of the sand where the egg incubates. Even relatively modest increases to nest temperatures have a dramatic impact. Studies have shown that when loggerhead eggs are incubated in 84.2﮿ F sand, there is a 50/50 male-to-female sex ratio of hatchlings. Yet when the temperature rises even slightly, the percent of females increases.

In an effort to investigate how the incubation environment affects sex ratios, SCCF launched a scientific study to measure temperature, moisture, and groundwater influence on loggerhead hatchling sex ratios.

Through an analysis that uses a small amount of blood to identify a protein present only in males, the sex of hatchlings from 21 nests on Sanibel is currently being assigned. As SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan explained, “Even though we cannot affect short-term climate changes, we can gain a better understanding of what incubation conditions increase the male to female ratios of hatchlings in a natural setting. “

To advance the study’s progress, the Linsmayer Family of Sanibel has graciously offered to match new contributions to this initiative dollar for dollar up to $10,000.00.

“Funding research that has the potential to make discoveries that could tangibly help save a species is an incredible opportunity. I hope everyone sees what a unique position we’re in to make a difference not only for sea turtles along our own shores, but globally,” said Linda Linsmayer on behalf of her family. “We’re doubling every dollar donated up to $10,000 to encourage everyone to share in the sense of discovery and so this story can end with the title, ‘How Sanibel and Captiva Saved the Sea Turtle.”

To RSVP for this free event click HERE.