Sea Turtles and their tolerance for hotter beaches

Published: October 6th 2011
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Few days ago there was an interesting article from A.M. Costa Rica (online Costa Rican newspapers) talking about green turtles that have adopted to hotter beaches.

The article says, that University of Exeter (Exeter, Devon UK) conducted a research that shows some turtles are naturally heat-tolerant. This research was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and it was focused on green turtles that are nesting on Ascension Island, an overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.

What scientists from the universities of Exeter and Groningen found is that eggs laid by turtles nesting on a naturally hot beach withstand high temperatures better than eggs from turtles nesting on a cooler beach just a few kilometers away. Since the warmer beach has dark sand it is two or three degrees Celsius warmer than the neighboring beach that has white sand.

These green turtles travel from the coast of South America to the tiny island to nest. Most females of these turtles nest on the beaches where they themselves hatched, so populations can become adapted to specific nesting locations.

Researchers observed eggs that they placed on each beach into incubators of either 32.5 degrees Celsius or 29 degrees Celsius and monitored their progress. They found that the eggs from the warmer beach were better able to thrive in the hot incubator than those from the cooler beach.

Leader of the research Jonathan Blount of the University of Exeter said that the researchers believe this is the first time that adaptation to local environmental conditions has been demonstrated in sea turtles, which is all the more remarkable because the beaches in question are just six kilometers apart.

If you are interested in sea turtles and would like to help in protecting them, please have a look on our Ostional Sea Turtle Project at

Here our volunteers work to protect sea turtles on the beach in the national Wildlife Reserve of Ostional in the Province of Guanacaste.

Why Ostional?

It is one of the top choices worldwide for those looking to help sea turtles. This beautiful national park is currently short-handed despite being one of only 2 areas in Costa Rica where turtles arrive every day.

At Ostional we help to protect three of the seven nesting sea turtle species that exist in the world. These are: Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and Black (Chelonia midas agassizii). The Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) has been observed near the coast, but we still have no spawning records. All these species are declared endangered.

(By Marketa Sobotkova- Marketing Intern)


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