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  • Beth Bahr

Artificial light and its effect on Sea Turtles

Updated: Aug 15, 2019




There was a point when nest turtles had no trouble finding a quiet, dark beach to nest. However, now sea turtles must compete with tourists, businesses and coastal residents, for use of sandy beaches. United States beaches, popular with humans and turtles, are now lined with houses, hotels, condominiums, and more. The lights from these developments discourage female sea turtles from nesting. When a female sea turtle fails to nest she false crawls, meaning she will nest in areas that will make the survival of the hatchlings slim.

Light near the shore can cause hatchlings to wander inland, due to confusion. The hatchlings often die due to dehydration and predation. Scientists believe that hatchlings have an instinct that causes them to go towards the brightest light they see. With that said, it’s often that the moons reflection onto the water cannot compete with the seaside’s artificial lights, from buildings.


There are ways to prevent the massacre of baby sea turtles dying from artificial light, and here are a few:

· Turn off any visible light that can be viewed from nesting beaches.

· Use special light fixtures that shield the light from the beach.

· Use low-pressure-sodium-vapor lighting (LPS) instead of using normal light, due to the dim light that is radiated from the LPS vapor.

· Use Turtle safe lighting. The red lights emit a very narrow portion of visible light, which means the light is less intrusive to the nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.

· It’s important to call local law enforcement if any disoriented hatchlings are found away from the sea.

· Tinting windows so light can’t protrude out towards the beach, will protect the hatchlings and nesting sea turtles.

· Close curtains or blinds after dusk, to cover windows that have visible light shining towards the beach.

The solution to reducing the amount of artificial light that’s visible from nesting beaches is reducing the light pollution that affects sea turtles. Many coastal communities around the world have passed ordinances that require residents to turn off beachfront lights during turtle nesting season. Sadly, these ordinances are not always enforced and do not address the larger problem of sky glow that occurs near cities. About 90% of all Sea Turtle nesting in the United States, occurs on Florida beaches. The Sea Turtle Conservancy observed sub-tropical waters around the world. In the western Atlantic, as far north as Massachusetts, they observed 58 nests and out of the 58 nests only 26 of the nests survived. It’s obvious that something needs to be done to help save these nesting sea turtles and hatchlings.

To help make a difference, there is a link below.

https://conserveturtles.org/support-stc-join-this-small-group-of-dedicated-members/

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