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.
Pikas live primarily in cool micro-climates on rocky slopes, feeding in adjacent meadows. Warmer temperatures and reduced snowpack are the main threats. Some Pikas may move to higher, cooler regions if there is enough vegetation. Pikas living in lower, warmer regions are at risk if they attempt to move to other regions as they are extremely sensitive to heat—more than two hours in temperatures over 78 °F can be lethal. Without enough winter snow for insulation, Pikas will freeze.
The Narwhal lives mainly in the Atlantic Arctic. Because of specialized habitat, narrow range and limited diet (Arctic cod and halibut), it is one of the Arctic species most vulnerable to climate change. The Narwhal breeds in bays and fjords, moving offshore during winter to areas of heavy ice pack, breathing through the few cracks. Sudden or extreme temperature change can cause these cracks to freeze shut, trapping the whales. Other threats are illegal hunting, industrial activities, and risks from oil development, exploration and shipping in the Arctic.
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.