Pollution in the oceans is leading to the feminization of sea turtles

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NEW YORK, BRONX (ORDO News) — Recent research by scientists at the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University raises questions about the fate of green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).

Specific contaminants found in female turtles can be passed on to their offspring, causing feminization of the hatchlings and threatening the already vulnerable species.

A study by Dr Arthur Barraza and his team found that the risk of male extinction due to climate change may be exacerbated by exposure to pollutants.

This is especially important for IUCN-listed species such as green sea turtles, which already face threats from poaching, boat strikes and habitat destruction.

It is known that the number of males in these turtles is reduced due to temperature-dependent sex determination in embryos.

However, new findings suggest that pollutants such as heavy metals and organic compounds also play a key role in the feminization of young.

Dr. Jason van de Merwe, senior author of the study, notes that the pollutants, acting as “xenoestrogens,” bind to female sex hormone receptors. They are passed from female to offspring, affecting the sex ratio and increasing the number of females.

As part of the study, scientists analyzed levels of metals and organic pollutants in green sea turtle egg clutches. The results showed that high levels of estrogenic micronutrients are associated with female predominance.

Dr Barraza calls for strategies to reduce pollution, as most of these substances enter the seas as a result of human activities. It emphasizes the importance of science-based strategies to prevent further feminization of this unique species.

The study was conducted as part of the World Wildlife Fund’s green sea turtle conservation project.

The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. The scientists hope their work will raise awareness of the need to protect this unique marine species and its habitat.


News agencies contributed to this report, edited and published by ORDO News editors.

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