Leatherback Sea TurtleLatin name: Dermochelys Coriacea,
Conservsation status: vulnerable (population is decreasing)
The largest of all sea turtles, the Leatherback has been on Earth since the dinosaurs—100 million years. It can grow over six feet long, weigh up to one ton, and dive over 3,000 feet—deeper than any other turtle.
Climate change impacts the Leatherback in two main ways: an increase in the temperature of nesting sands causes a greater proportion of females to hatch, destabilizing future populations; and sea level rise and stronger, more frequent storms erode nesting beaches and wash away eggs and hatchlings. The Leatherback is also threatened from fisheries by-catch, egg collection, coastal development, pollution and ingestion of floating plastics.
Other animals at risk
Belugas live in Arctic and Sub-Arctic waters. Impacts from climate change include: an increase in ship traffic as sea ice declines, oil exploration and extraction, fisheries by-catch, and disruption of the food web. As Arctic waters warm and currents change, the Humpback (a competitor) and the Orca (a predator) may move north and stay longer. Some Beluga populations are also threatened by hunting, pollution and habitat loss.
American pikas occupy talus—rock piles that accumulate at the base of a slope—at high elevations in western mountains. Pikas are thought to be a prime example of the potential effects of climate change because they are sensitive to warm temperatures and rely on insulation provided by snow to survive cold winter temperatures. However, several recent studies indicate that pikas can be resilient to each of these factors. Most pikas in the Sierra Nevada survived the winter of 2014, when there was almost no snowpack. Pikas persist in many hot localities as well, demonstrating their ability to cope with high temperatures.
Ivory Gulls are almost entirely dependent on sea ice and glaciers for nesting and food foraging. They feed on fish and shellfish that thrive near the edge of the ice, and on the remains of seals left by Polar Bears. Seal blubber is a source of heavy contaminants—Ivory Gull eggs show a higher concentration of mercury and pesticides than any Arctic sea bird. Other threats are illegal hunting and disturbance from diamond mining in the Canadian Arctic.
The Arctic tundra is a region of shrubs, grasses and permanently frozen subsoil. Warming could change the tundra to boreal forest—habitat for the Red Fox. The Red Fox, a predator and a competitor for food, is already beginning to migrate north into the Arctic Fox's territory. Milder tundra weather also causes changes in the population of lemmings and rodents—main food for the Arctic Fox.