A Kemp’s ridley hatchling makes its way to the oceans edge on Padre Island National Seashore in Texas on July 18, 2023. The Kemps ridley has been hovering on the cusp of extinction for the past 70 years and is the worlds smallest and most endangered sea turtle. Due to egg poaching and the growing shrimp industry in the Gulf of Mexico by the mid 1980’s the species was decimated to only 200 nesting females in just 40 years.

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Turtles and Sparrows

Lauren Owens Lambert | United States

Turtles: Water temperatures plummet in November in Cape Cod bay. Kemp’s ridleys, most endangered sea turtle in the world wash up, cold-stunned, on the inside edge of the hook-shaped Cape. The phenomenon is the largest recurring sea turtle stranding event in the world but the stranding are increasing due to climate change and successful conservation work in their nesting beaches in Mexico and Texes.

Sparrow: The saltmarsh sparrow – the only bird species that breeds exclusively in the saltmarshes of the Northeast U.S. and found nowhere else on earth – could soon face extinction due to rising seas from climate change. More than four out of every five saltmarsh sparrows have disappeared in the last 3 decades, with an estimated population decline of 87 percent. A 200 kilometer long hybrid zone exists in New Hampshire and Maine between the saltmarsh sparrow and the nelsons sparrow. Depending on what traits the saltmarsh sparrow picks up, it could help future generations adapt to climate change. The sparrow is currently under consideration for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, with a decision expected in September of 2024.

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