TOWNSVILLE, Australia, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Protecting nesting grounds and areas suitable for future turtle nesting are vital to saving marine turtles from climate change, Australian scientists say.
Some turtle populations in the West Indian Ocean, Northeast Indian Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, East Atlantic Ocean and the East Pacific Ocean are among the least likely to recover from the impacts of climate change without such protections, they said.
"To give marine turtles a better chance of coping with climate change, we have to protect their nesting sites and to address threats such as bycatch and coastal development," said Mariana Fuentes from the ARC Centers of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.
"We have seen sea turtle populations decline dramatically in recent decades, and it is likely to get worse due to climate change, as they're particularly vulnerable to it," she said in an ARC release Tuesday.
Species of marine turtles at risk from climate change include flatbacks, loggerheads, green turtles, leatherbacks, hawksbills, olive ridleys and Kemp's ridleys, the researchers said.
"Turtles have existed for millions of years and were here long before humans," Fuentes said. "t would be a complete tragedy if they were to become extinct as a result of our actions and our lack of care."