- Title: ITALY: Migratory habits of sea turtles could be changing due to climate change
- Date: 9th May 2007
- Summary: SEA TURTLES IN CONTAINERS SEA TURTLE SWIMMING IN TANK
- Embargoed: 24th May 2007 13:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Nature / Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA68MMHHC9TOOW4TNZKQ3602P8
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Enviromentalists in Italy fear that climate change is having an impact on the migratory patterns of turtles.
The temperature of the Ligurian sea off the north-eastern coast of Italy is warmer this year after the country has experienced the hottest winter in two centuries.
Normally at a level of 12-13 degrees between the months of April and May, this year the temperature has not dropped below 19 degrees.
Scientists believe this may be the reason why pleasure boat drivers and fishermen have been finding a larger than normal number of distressed sea turtles apparently in difficulty in the water.
At the Aquarium in Genova specialists are currently treating nine logger-head sea turtles that have been picked up along the coast struggling to keep afloat or just floating listlessly on top of the water.
'The difference between the normal season is that at the moment we are finding these individuals during winter time when normally they are found between May and September-October' said Curator General of the Aquarium and head Veterinarian Claudia Gili.
'...right now we have nine individuals that were found between November and March,' she said.
Normally the logger-head sea turtles migrate in winter to the southern Mediterranean following warmer currents of water which provide them with their necessary food. They return usually in June. This year specialists say it looks as though the animals have become confused by the warmer temperatures and have probably not bothered to migrate at all.
'The increase in temperature has an impact on the whole eco-system from the lower vertebrates up to the higher mammals and vertebrates and plants as well - so I would say if this temperature change increases constantly we might see some serious changing in the habitats that surrounds us' Gili said.
For the moment the nine turtles being treated at the Aquarium are all doing wel,l but so far cannot be released as the water temperature is still not warm enough for them to survive if they stay in the Ligurian sea. All of the turtles have been tagged in order for their migratory habits to be closely monitored in the future.
But the experts believe more turtles will be found in trouble in May before the sea warms up sufficiently, and only time will tell if these animals learn to adapt to an environment that appears to be becoming warmer.
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