TAMPA, Fla. — Floridians living near sea turtle nesting beaches are being asked to turn off or shield lights in order to keep sea turtles safe.
Baby turtles use the natural light from the sky to help guide them to the water. If they instead follow artificial lighting, the hatchlings can be put in harm’s way; and predators, cars or other risks can lead to untimely deaths.
In addition, adult sea turtles can become confused by artificial lights. This can cause female adult turtles to return to the ocean, instead of laying their eggs.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission urges beachfront residents to follow three “golden rules” when it comes to artificial lighting: light fixtures should be mounted as low as possible, only produce long wavelength light and be shielded from the beach.
Some other ways to decrease harmful light pollution include turning off unnecessary lights — even if you're indoors, planting vegetation buffers such as seas grapes or other native plants to shield the light source, shutting blinds or curtains and using motion detector lights set to the shortest time setting. In addition, homes or buildings on the coast are encouraged to install window tints with 45 percent or less inside-to-outside light transmittance.
Sea turtle nesting season lasts from May 1 through Oct. 31 of each year in Florida. Many beaches offer turtle tours during this period. Though beachgoers may be tempted to snap pictures of sea turtle nest areas, people are urged not to take flash photos as this can also interfere with the turtles’ sense of direction.
Some great locations to experience sea turtle nesting in the Sunshine State include: Von D. Mizell-Eula State Park, Loggerhead Marine Life Center and the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. Other sea turtle hot spots can be found here.
If you witness harassment of sea turtles or notice any endangered or stranded turtles, you can report it to the FWC Wildlife Alert number: 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) send a text to Tip@FWC.com. In addition, any questions regarding lighting in your home can be directed to Wildlifelighting@MyFWC.com.