Yemen's Turtles Face Extinction Due to Climate-Induced Gender Imbalance

It appears that the consequences of climate change are severe for both animals and plants. Several studies in recent years have shown that climate warming has led to a shortage of male turtles in various regions around the world, from the shores of Florida to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

In 2018, American researchers revealed that the majority of green turtles north of the Great Barrier Reef, totaling around 200,000, are females. This imbalance poses a threat to this species, which is among the most crucial in the world.

Rising Temperatures

In Yemen, marine turtles face the risk of extinction due to a scarcity of males as a result of climate change. As night falls, a turtle emerges from the sea and takes advantage of the calm to head towards a sandy beach in southern Yemen to lay its eggs, most of which are believed to be female due to climate warming.

Hafez Kalshat, a volunteer dedicated to protecting marine turtles from the people of Ghaydah, the capital of Al Mahrah governorate, states, "In recent years, most of the young turtles are females due to the rise in temperatures." He further explains that "the fluctuation between heat and the arrival of cold as autumn approaches results in a mix of males and females" among the young turtles. He emphasizes that global climate change and the prolonged periods of intense heat exacerbate the phenomenon of declining males each year.

He also points out that "many males on the shores have been spending their last moments" given their dwindling numbers, which have "significantly declined" over time.

"More than 90%"

Jamal Bawazir, the head of the Biodiversity Department at the Center for Studies and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aden, the largest city in the south and the temporary headquarters of the Yemeni government, warns that studies conducted in many coastal areas have demonstrated that the ratio of females to males reaches more than 90%.

He cautions that the overall decline in male ratios threatens to lead to the "extinction of males in marine turtles" in the coming years.

He also urges authorities to take action, particularly suggesting the formation of a "specialized technical team to monitor turtles at nesting sites... and to collect the eggs and place them in suitable sandy hatcheries" in order to produce a greater number of males.

Shelters on the Beaches

International experts also propose the idea of placing a type of shelter on beaches where turtles establish their nests to ensure the appropriate warmth for the eggs.

However, Bawazir asserts that "it is certainly difficult to carry out these operations under current conditions."

On their part, Yemeni authorities remind that the constitution itself stipulates the obligation to protect the environment.

It should be noted that the temperatures during the egg incubation period determine the sex of the turtles, as males form in a cooler climate than what females require for their development.

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