Scientists are warning of a "sharp decline in their population."
Scientists haven't seen almost any male sea turtle hatch in Florida for years due to record temperatures, Reuters reports. Around 99 percent of all baby sea turtles are being born female in the state — all because of climate change.
"The frightening thing is the last four summers in Florida have been the hottest summers on record," Bette Zirkelbach, who manages a turtle hospital in the Florida Keys, told Reuters. "Scientists that are studying sea turtle hatchlings and eggs have found no boy sea turtles, so only female sea turtles for the past four years."
And that could spell disaster for populations of sea turtles, who are already facing other existential threats like poaching and habitat destruction.
According to the National Ocean Service, turtle eggs that incubate below 81.86 degrees Fahrenheit result in male hatchlings. Incubation above 88.8 degrees Fahrenheit results in female hatchlings. Fluctuating temperatures, however, can result in either.
The problem is temperatures aren't really fluctuating — they just seem to be heading upwards. Power grids in the US have struggled to keep up with summer's heat waves, and thousands of people died in unbearable UK temperatures.
If the trend continues, turtle populations worldwide (and clearly, humans too) will be more threatened than ever.
"Over the years, you're going to see a sharp decline in their population because we just don't have the genetic diversity," Melissa Rosales Rodriguez, a sea turtle keeper at the Miami Zoo, told Reuters. "We don't have the male-to-female ratio needed in order to be able to have successful breeding sessions."
Even worse, the National Ocean Service is warning that increasing sand temperatures could end up killing the turtles — meaning that soon, there could be no new hatchlings at all.
More on climate change: Spain Forcing Public Places to Set AC At or Above 81 Degrees Fahrenheit