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Microbes Threaten Baby Sea Turtles
By Angela Messina, March 3, 2015 @ 07:30 PM (EST)
Source: The Conservation

New evidence backs up what scientists have long thought might be the cause of low hatch rates among sea turtle eggs: an excess of sand microbes.

During an arribadas, an event when many female sea turtles are laying their eggs all at once, females will often dig up previously laid nests in order to make room for their own eggs. This causes an abundance of broken and decomposing sea turtle eggs, which increases the levels of microbes in the sand and in turn raises the sand’s temperature and lowers oxygen levels. So despite high rates of egg laying, low hatch rates often plague sea turtle eggs.

Researchers travelled to a Costa Rican beach to alter microbe levels in the sand in order to see how it affected temperature and oxygen levels. They confirmed that higher microbial levels did correspond to lower hatch rates, lowered oxygen levels, and higher temperatures in the sand. They also found that removing and replacing sand decreased microbe levels and increased hatching success rates.

Sea turtle species are considered endangered and threatened and these findings are especially important in improving conservation efforts.

Read more about microbes and sea turtles here.




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