Meet Melissa who dedicates her time to researching climate change and turtles.

Meet Melissa the amazing marine biologist she is researching Climate Change and the effects it has on Turtles. I want to celebrate Melissa and all the people who dedicate their lives to understanding and improving our oceans and all the creatures who have no voice. . .

You can find her on instagram @miss_turtley_obsessed.

Not only is she one of our amazing woman of earth creating a difference , she is also beautiful inside and out. 

Hope you all enjoy what she has to say below :)

Hi , my name is Melissa, I am a marine biologist from the University of Queensland, Australia and I am currently doing my PhD on the effect of climate change on the sex-ratios of sea turtle hatchlings.


Many reptiles such as crocodiles, some lizards and turtles have their sex determined by nest temperature. For sea turtles, if the nest is above 29 °C then mostly females are produced, if the nest below 29 °C then mostly males are produced. If climate change increases the nest temperature too much, potentially no more males can be produced, the hatching success will decline and the
population could collapse within 2-3 generations. My goal is to (1) find out how sea turtle embryos are impacted by climate change and (2) find
alternative solutions to produced balanced sex-ratios.

I am also monitoring sand temperatures in remote areas across the Indo-Pacific with help from local rangers. An important part of conservation is to involve the indigenous communities in your research. They can provide valuable knowledge on the animals and the area, but at the same time they can gain a greater appreciation an understanding of the ecological importance of turtles.

Sea turtles face a mirage of threats along with climate change. Although many of you reading this right now can’t have a direct impact on reducing the effect of climate change, you can help turtles by relieving the other threats impacting them.

PLASTIC PROBLEM
By 2050, researchers believe there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Plastic is a real problem for marine life, sea turtles will often eat plastic bags and helium balloons floating in the water because they look like jellyfish (their favourite food!!). A lot of the plastic we use every day is single use, meaning we use it once to store food or a product and then it goes in the bin. Reducing your plastic-use can be as simple as bringing a metal straw to the café, saying no to the plastic bag at the shopping centre, using reusable produce bags and buying package-free food. Every day we can use less plastic or pick it up off the ground. Talk to your local café about using cardboard packaging instead of Styrofoam or ask your school to plant tree seedlings instead of releasing helium balloons for special occasions.

If you do see an injured animal with plastic wrapped around it, in Australia you
can call 1800 ANIMAL and RSPCA will come to the rescue and take them to a wildlife hospital.

CUT THE GLOW
Sea turtles are also very sensitive to light at night. Nesting turtles will avoid beaches with lots of bright lights, which might deter them from nesting on optimal beaches. Hatchlings use light cues to sense where the whitewash of the ocean is. On a dark night, the white was is easy to see, but if there are bright lights from neighbouring towns lighting up the sky, the sky-glow can distract them
from crawling towards the ocean and instead then head inland, sometimes across major roads or and into drains… not a safe place for hatchlings. If you live in a town near nesting turtles, please prevent sky-glow by turning off lights when you do not need them, add tall vegetation around your home
and close your curtains at night. You can write to your local council about the dimming the lights in your town or adding blinds to streets lights so the light is directed downwards instead of outwards.

TOO RARE TO WEAR
Tortoise shell or “bokka” is a brownish-clear material used to make jewellery and ornaments for tourists in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. Unfortunately, many tourists do not know that tortoise shell is in fact made from the scutes (scales) of the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle. To get the scutes, the wild sea turtle is captured and killed by locals (often from low socio-economic areas),
the scutes are removed and melted and moulded into a design. The rest of the turtle must be discarded because hawksbills are poisonous as their diet is comprised of toxic sponges (the toxins being retained in the tissues of the turtle).

 

With greater education, it is hoped that tourists can
recognise tortoise shell and avoid buying it. Because hawksbill turtles are protected internationally (ICUN red-listed), the sale of tortoise shell is illegal and if you try to enter a country (like Australia) the tortoise shell will be confiscated and you may receive a hefty fine. You can learn more by finding
Too rare to wear on Facebook (WWF Australia).

 


There are many ways you can help sea turtles but should try to educate yourself the best that you can. Find out what species nest in your country/region, are they endangered? Are there any organisations working to conserve your local populations? How can you get involved? I really try to encourage people to volunteer a week of their time to sea turtle conservation to help understand them better. There’s still so much we don’t know about sea turtles… it’s hard to believe that less than 50 years ago, people still thought sea turtles only lived to be 10 years old and even geneticists were flabbergasted at the fact that sea turtles have their sex determined by sand temperature. There is still so much more to discover and I’m excited to be on that journey.


Thanks for having me!


Melissa


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