Sea turtle nesting season is underway and so are many people's summer vacations. We wanted to offer a reminder regarding the precautions that need to be taken to help keep these precious animals out of harm's way. Please check out our post below that was first published in November 2010.
Protecting and preserving sea turtles is an impassioned movement throughout the world. Florida, in particular, has implemented several ordinances in order to help further protect sea turtles from a variety of factors that lead to their decline.
In coastal communities, sea turtles crawl onto the beach at night and lay their nests. These spectacular creatures are naturally drawn towards the light of the horizon from the reflection off the water. As beachfront communities have developed, the artificial lighting confuses the sea turtles, ultimately disorienting them. Because this attraction to light is instinctive, emerging hatchlings also become quickly disoriented.
As these sea turtles head towards the light source intended to lead them back to the ocean, they get confused and head towards street lights and glowing lights from store fronts and residences. This confusion deters the sea turtles from nesting and can lead to an unnecessary death for these endangered creatures by getting preyed upon by fire ants, ghost crabs and birds, hit by cars, or dehydrated.
The Florida Model Lighting and Marine Turtle Protection ordinance, was created with the intent to establish guidelines to help protect wayward sea turtles in coastal areas from the affects of artificial lighting and to help improve the overall nesting habitats for sea turtles and their hatchlings. This ordinance includes proper lighting and the use of window tint to shield light transmission from store fronts and residences.
In addition to the beachfront lighting regulations, the ordinance requires that: “Tinted glass shall be installed on all windows and glass doors of single or multi-story structures within line-of-sight of the beach.”
Specifics to the definition of tinted glass includes: “…any glass treated to achieve an industry-approved, inside-to-outside light transmittance value of 45% or less and limited to the visible spectrum.”
If you find yourself in a coastal town, there are ways to help! By turning off any unnecessary lights, closing windows and blinds and refraining from using flashlights or camera flashes, you are contributing to the preservation of these magnificent creatures.
If you live or work beachfront, take simple steps to plant vegetation which will buffer the light source and the beach. Also, apply professional window tint to your home or business. The professional application of window film, such as Sun-Gard, will keep the light on the inside of your home or business from brightly transmitting through the windows.
According to an article written by Katherine Butler on the Coastal Protection of Sea Turtles in Florida, “the artificial beachfront lighting problem may be the most manageable of the human-caused sea turtle disturbances.”
Globally, there are seven species of sea turtles that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Threats to sea turtles today include the harvesting of their eggs for human consumption, entanglement and entrapment in fishing gear, ingestion of litter and coastal development.
For more information on sea turtle preservation and how you can help, visit the NOAA Office of Protected Species. Read more about the Florida Model Lighting Ordinance for Marine Turtle Protection here.