Sea Turtle Nesting Season

posted May 8, 2012, 10:54 AM by Garth Graham

It’s here through October 31st.  Sea turtles are protected under the United States Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida Statutes Chapter 370.12, the Marine Turtle Protection Act.  These laws provide, “No person may take, harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, kill, trap, capture or attempt to engage in any such conduct to marine turtles, turtle nests, and/or turtle eggs.”  Violators may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties. If you see someone handling a sea turtle or poaching a nest, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).

Beach front lighting and sea turtles 

Sea turtles are guided toward the ocean by the natural reflection of the moon or  stars off of the surf.  Artificial lighting, which is common along beachfront property,  creates a serious threat for nesting sea turtles and hatchlings. Artificial lights may  disorient turtles and cause them to travel away from the ocean instead of toward it. 

However, there are ways that property  owners can make changes to beachfront  lights to prevent them from being visible to turtles on the beach.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers a list of suggestions for modifying beachfront lighting, several of which are listed below. 

  1. Turn off unnecessary lights. Don't use  decorative lighting (such as runner lights or vegetation uplighting) in areas that are visible from the beach and permanently remove, disable, or turn off fixtures that cannot be modified in any other way.
  2. For lights that can be repositioned, face them away from the beach so that the light source is no longer visible.
  3. Shield the light source. Materials such as aluminum flashing can be used as a shield to direct light and keep it off the beach. When shielding lights, it is important to make sure they are shielded from all areas on the beach (including from either side and on top), and not just from the beach directly in front of the light. Black oven paint may be used as a temporary solution.
  4. Replace incandescent, fluorescent, and high intensity lighting with the lowest wattage low-pressure sodium vapor lighting or replace white incandescent bulbs with the yellow "bug" light variety of 25 watts or less for incandescent and 9 watts or less for compact fluorescent.  The best technology available for sea turtle friendly lighting is a Red or Amber LED.

Additional information about wildlife lighting and examples of types of lighting is available on the FWC’s website at  http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/seaturtles/turtles-lights/

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