PLAYA GRANDE, Costa Rica, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Climate change threatens the extinction of leatherback sea turtles that have called the Pacific Ocean home for 150 million years, scientists said.
Warmer temperatures and rising seas are further reducing turtle populations already devastated by beach development, net fishing and restaurants that consider turtle eggs a delicacy.
Just 32 leatherbacks were seen digging nests last year on a beach at Leatherback Sea Turtle National Park, Playa Grande, Costa Rica, where the park's turtle museum was abandoned three years ago and now is surrounded by weeds.
"We do not promote this as a turtle tourism destination anymore because we realize there are far too few turtles to please," Alvaro Fonseca, a park ranger, told The New York Times in a story published Saturday.
Moving eggs to hatcheries and artificially cooling nests with shade or irrigation may only help temporarily since sea turtles feed on reefs, which are dying in warmer, more acidic seas, wildlife experts said.