“Turtle Tinder” highlights species on the brink: World Turtle Day

A Green Sea Turtle in the Great Barrier Reef (Image Credit: Mysa).

THE Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is inviting Brisbanites to play ‘Turtle Tinder’ to highlight the extinction threat to Green Sea Turtles from climate change. World Turtle Day was yesterday, May 23.

Since the 1990s, 99% of Green Sea Turtles hatched from the Northern Great Barrier Reef have been born female because of global warming. The interactive games, nicknamed ‘Turtle Tinder’, allow the public to visualise the odds of male turtles surviving to adulthood and reproducing.

“These games are fun to play but they have a serious side, enabling the public to see how easily the turtle population of the northern Great Barrier Reef could crash under our watch,” Imogen Zethoven, Fight For Our Reef Campaign Director for AMCS, said.

“Turtles are one of the reasons why the Great Barrier Reef received World Heritage status. We need to act on climate change now to protect them and protect the Reef.”

The games will be set up in Queen Street Mall, Brisbane, to highlight the turtles’ plight. In one game, visitors have to search through a kids’ clam shell sandpit containing 100 turtles made of reused egg cartons to find the turtles a mate.

In another game, visitors have to use their wits to locate the solo male turtle underneath 100 ‘lift-the-flap’ sections on an interactive board. Each participant has just three attempts to find a pair of a male and female turtle.

Mark Hamann, Associate Professor at James Cook University, has been studying the effects of climate change on Green Sea Turtle populations in the Great Barrier Reef. He explained the science behind what was happening to the turtles.

“Ninety-nine per cent of Green Sea Turtle hatchlings arising from nesting sites in the northern Reef were born female because their sex is determined by the heat of the sand incubating their eggs – and climate change has made that sand hotter, causing more females,” Professor Hamann said.

“As only one in a 1000 turtle hatchlings survive into adulthood, this means the odds of their continued survival on some beaches and regions is critical.”

“It’s crucial we recognise that climate change is having an impact right now here in Australia – and there is still time to act and save these turtles.”

In a few weeks, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will meet in Bahrain to reiterate the importance of all countries meeting their obligations on climate change under the Paris Climate Agreement. This means ensuring global average temperatures do not rise more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

“We urgently need to stop burning fossil fuels as this is what causes climate change,” Imogen Zethoven of AMCS said.

“We need to stop allowing coal mines like the proposed Adani Carmichael mine and rapidly transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy.”

AMCS is urging Australians to sign a petition calling on the Government to cut carbon pollution in Australia to protect the Great Barrier Reef.