Leatherback Turtle Declines Will Escalate As Climate Warms, Study Finds

A warming climate could exacerbate threats facing leatherback turtle populations in the eastern Pacific Ocean, creating conditions that could trigger a 75 percent reduction in turtle numbers by the end of the century, a new study says. Even under existing
Leatherback turtle
conditions, turtle births ebb and flow each year, researchers say, with eggs and hatchlings more likely to survive in cooler, rainier seasons, and a greater number of male hatchlings occurring in predominantly female leatherback populations in these conditions. After modeling these population dynamics in light of projected changes in temperature and precipitation in the turtles’ critical nesting areas, particularly the beaches of Costa Rica, researchers from Drexel and Princeton universities projected an increase in egg and hatchling mortality. According to their findings, leatherback populations could decline 7 percent per decade through 2100. A key in preserving turtle populations in the future will be manipulating beach conditions to encourage as many good hatchlings as possible, the researchers say.