Turtles and Tortoises at risk due to Climate Change
“It’s not only the Aldabra which is at risk,” said David Rowat from the Seychelles marine conservation society, which heads up a programme to tag and monitor critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtles on Mahe Island’s beaches.
“Hawksbills have always been hunted for their shell to make tortoiseshell jewellery. Their numbers are low but we have the fifth largest population in the world here, and it’s imperative we act to protect them,” he said.
Changes in temperature play havoc with breeding patterns because the Hawksbills, which live in tropical coral reefs and have prominent hooked beaks, tend to produce only females if the eggs are left in a very warm nest, he said.
“The warming also means there are violent and more frequent storms. The turtles lay their eggs in the sand, but if you have a bad storm surge, you can lose big tracts of sand and a whole season of nesting turtles,” Rowat said.
“We move the nests we come across to above the high water line on the beach, but even doing that cannot always protect them from a flash surge,” he added.
A significant part of the new funds will go to projects aiming to protect and restore the coral reefs and shore up the coastline against storms.
“The ideas we’re testing include using wooden poles as a barrier to protect the coast and replanting trees to help prevent erosion, as well as attempting to regrow coral or transplant and grow more resilient coral,” Payet said.