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NWF Report: FL Wildlife Impacted by Climate Change

January 30, 2013

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Sea turtles and coral are among the Florida species already feeling the impact of climate change, according to a new report by the National Wildlife Federation.

Scientists who studied the effects of changing temperatures on wildlife across the nation predict that, without action to reduce carbon pollution, the planet could warm by 7 to 10 degrees by the end of the century.

A report co-author, Dr. Doug Inkley, says warming waters prevent the growth of algae, which is necessary for the growth and survival of coral reefs.

"Because that algae cannot survive when it gets too warm, and so they bleach out - the coral bleaches out - as they die," says Inkley. "Sometimes they can recover, sometimes they cannot."

Inkley says the federation also has seen evidence of reduced sea turtle nesting and a decrease in male turtles being hatched. When sea turtle eggs are hatched at hotter temperatures, he says, more females are born.

The report predicts sea levels could rise by more than 6 feet by the end of this century. Inkley says Florida is at ground zero in some ways, if that is the case.

"Climate change is a great concern across the nation, but very much so in Florida," he says. "It's a very low-elevation state. We are facing sea level rise now due to the melting of the polar ice caps."

Although the problems are serious, the report says, there are ways to curtail climate change, including reducing carbon emissions across the nation.

The report, "Wildlife in a Warming World," is online at nwf.org/climatecrisis.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL