Climate change hurting Solomon Islands’ turtles: Nature Conservancy

A Hawksbill turtle underwater. Photo credit: celebrating200years.noaa.gov

Sea level rises and increased acidity in the sea and sand will affect the nesting population of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle in the future, the Nature Conservancy says.

Project Manager for The Nature Conservancy’s Solomon Islands program Willie Atu said, in response, the Government should conduct climate change awareness programs for the three communities looking after the Arnavon Marine Park.

Speaking to SIBC News, Mr Atu said the more acidic the sea became from absorbing carbon dioxide, the more the sand becomes rough.

He said it was not ideal for the turtles which had very specific nesting conditions.

“If the sand becomes hotter, all the turtles will become females,” he said. “It only goes with two temperatures only, if it goes 31 degrees and more the majority of the eggs will be female. If it is 27 degrees and goes below, the majority will become males.”

Turtles on Arnavon island. Photo credit: The Travel World online.

He says the sea level rise prevents turtles from climbing up to higher grounds to nest, so the Arnavon rangers have started relocating eggs to safer areas.

While the Government through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Meteorology has assisted the Nature Conservancy in various projects, it has not directly assisted with the Arnavon Islands yet.

Mr Atu said awareness programs for the three communities looking after the conservancy area were needed.

The people at home want to hear messages, but they want the message to come from who? That depends on the message and the messenger. So if the messenger is from the Government then they will treat it as more powerful and of high esteem than from me as an NGO.That is why partnership is also very important.”

The three communities of Kia in the Isabel province and Wagina and Katupika in the Choiseul Province are protecting the largest nesting grounds for hawksbill turtle in the South Pacific.

By Kikiva Tuni 

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