#ClimateChange: How 5 animals are impacted by extreme weather

2018-01-10 13:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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Cape Town - 2018 is already serving up some extreme weather around the world, and some animals are just not coping well.

Australia and USA specifically had some particularly rough times recently, as a 'bomb cyclone' caused temperatures to drop to Arctic levels in North America and a heatwave in Australia pushed temperatures scarily close to 50°C.

WATCH: Heartbreaking video of starving polar bear is the face of climate change

Some animals are having an ever rougher time than the sweating or freezing humans. Some are dropping out of the sky or beaching themselves, because Mother Nature is throwing a tantrum, probably because the human race keeps messing with her ecosystems. At least one marine mammal seems to thrive better when the weather goes bad.

Check out how these five animals are being affected by severe weather.

Green Sea Turtles

If you're a male sea turtle in the Great Barrier Reef, you're going to have great time come mating season. Due to rising temperatures, a study found that about 86,8% of the local sea turtle population are female, with almost all juveniles and adults recorded as female in the northern parts of the reef.

The reason for this gender disparity is that the sex of a turtle is determined by the water temperatures while it's still in its egg. Cooler temperatures sway the scales to males, and as the global temperature is set to rise in coming years, green sea turtle populations may crash due to the lack of males.

Meninists will probably blame feminism for this one.

SEE: Most sea turtles now female in north Great Barrier Reef 

Gray-headed flying foxes

While Sydney experiences a record-breaking heatwave that will make the Joburg one feel cosy to Whitewalkers, its bats are struggling with boiling brains. Thousands have them have started dropping out of the sky and trees, as rescue workers try to save as many pups as they can.

The heat affects their brains, making them incoherent, with a local expert comparing it to like standing in a sandpit with no shade. Many were still clinging to trees as they perished in the ungodly heat.

This face makes you hope they manage to save more.

SEE: Bats' brains boil in Australia heatwave


In Florida, local iguanas instead of bats were falling from trees after the normally sunny state reached freezing temperatures during a 'bomb cyclone'. The cold-blooded reptiles, an invasive species that thrives in the tropical climate, became immobilised when temperatures dipped to below 5°C, but most was able to survive the freeze.

Many are able to wake themselves up again when it warms, and Samaritans trying to help the critters were advised to best leave them alone. They get a bit grumpy when they awake from their Sleeping Beauty coma.

One Floridian journalist captured the resurrection of one in his garden.

SEE: It's so cold in Florida, iguanas are falling from trees 

Thresher sharks

Unlike the iguanas, the thresher sharks weren't able to come back to life after a little warning. Frozen carcasses washed up on the shores of Cape Cod in Massachusettes during the Big Freeze.

According to Deutsche Welle, these sharks are normally quite apt at surviving in cold waters, which is why they may have stuck around longer in the winter months than other sharks. Although it's not conclusive as to why they were dying, scientists theorise that they weren't prepared for the sudden drop and tried to escape to warmer waters, beaching themselves in the process. 

Luckily our Great Whites can deal with the insanely cold waters down in Western Cape.


The one animal that might win with extreme weather. Scientists predicted that dolphin populations will see a massive population boom following the devestating hurricane season that decimated the Carribean last year. Unfortunately this doesn't make the species any less vulnerable.

Experts started noticing a pattern after Hurricane Katrina, which was followed by more cute baby dolphins than normal. A biologist theorised that it could be either that mothers lose babies during the hurricane season and thus are more eager to reporduce afterwards, or the decline in the fishing industry in the aftermath means more fishies for pregnant mothers, which leads to healthier babies.

We could all do with a few more dolphins in the world.

SEE: Why hurricane season is good for dolphins

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