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Turtle Nest Shading Trials Begin

15 December 2021


A new study will investigate ways of helping turtles adapt to climate change

Over the coming weeks the AIG Conservation and Fisheries Directorate (AIGCFD) will begin practical work on a turtle nest shading trial to help assess potential turtle nesting resilience, and adaptations, to climate change. As part of this two shade enclosures will be built, one at the back of Long Beach and one at the back of North East Beach. These enclosures will provide vital information on possible viable methods to help nesting turtles adapt to climate change.

This work is part of the Climate Resilience and Conservation of Ascension’s Biodiversity (CRACAB) project funded by the UK Government’s Darwin Plus Programme, which focuses on practical solutions to help local wildlife adapt to climate change. One element of this project is to investigate future tools for helping turtles cope with increasing temperatures. Nest temperatures above 290C result in a distorted sex ratio in turtle hatchlings, with increasingly fewer males developing as heat rises until a critical temperature is reached where few eggs, if any, hatch at all. Climate change may bring temperatures in Ascension’s turtle nesting grounds close to this critical threshold in the future.

By relocating 80 turtle nests over the coming season to shaded and unshaded enclosures, AIGCFD will study how far temperatures can be manipulated on beaches to improve turtle hatching success and balance sex ratios. This will help us to plan how we can best manage Ascension’s iconic and globally important green turtle population to survive the pressures of climate change.

The two enclosures will measure eight metres by 10 metres, half covered in shade netting one metre above ground, and surrounded by a 40cm high fence. They will be dismantled at the end of the trial in June 2022. As with all turtle nests, the public are asked to respect the shaded nesting areas, and are also reminded that Green Turtles are a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 2013.

For more information please contact the Conservation Office on 66359.