The impacts of sea-level rise on the index nesting beach on Klein Bonaire for three species of sea turtle


Globally, all extant sea turtles species are endangered due to centuries of uncontrolled exploitation, furthermore they face future threats from climate change. The Caribbean is home to six of the seven extant marine turtle species. Sea turtles have various nesting and feeding grounds across the Caribbean but return to their natal beaches to breed. This study focuses on nesting sea turtles in Bonaire, a small island in the south of the Caribbean, which has three breeding species; the Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill turtle. The index beach is “No Name” beach on the small islet of Klein Bonaire, which is 800m west of Bonaire.

Global sea-level rise projections range between 0.18-0.59m by 2100 (IPCC, 2007). However, the Caribbean region could experience 25% greater sea-level rise than the global average with suggestions up to 1.6m. Sea-level rise threatens nesting beaches and is expected to negatively impact the sea turtles. This investigation measured beach profiles along “No Name” beach to create contours of elevation. The nests were identified, monitored and plotted onto maps. Analysis of the distance from the nest to the HTM and elevations of nests indicate that Loggerheads are more at risk from sea-level rise. However for all sea-level rise scenarios there will be beach area and nests lost (using 2012 data). Where natal beaches cannot retreat, they may be lost to sea-level rise; turtles must adapt to climate changes or will face an even greater population decline. 

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