Sea turtles are beginning to make their way to the ocean as the nesting season starts. These animals are disturbed by unnatural light because the light steers them away from the ocean. When turtles travel towards the light it puts them in danger of dying from dehydration, being hit by cars on the road and being a meal for predators. The female turtles can be drawn to the light instead of nesting and the light can disorient sea turtles that are hatching. Before artificial lights, a hatching turtle was guided to the ocean by their instincts, which told it to crawl towards the brightest horizon. In those days, the sun was the only bright horizon they had.
In an effort to keep turtles safe, some areas are told to dim or redirect their lights. St. Lucie County in Palm Beach, Florida reminded its residents to turn off lights that can be seen from the beach and dunes near the beach between sunrise and sunset during the nesting season. They were also told to not shine lights at beach entrances, piers, beach walkways and any other structure meant for pedestrian traffic. People were told to place window treatments on their windows if their houses faced the beach. They were also told not to turn on inside lights during hatching season.
The ordinance is not sitting well with residents of Palm Beach because some believe it could create safety hazards. Charles Carroll, a resident of South End said it was very difficult to see people at night and that residents are concerned people are going to get hit or killed. Carroll said even though people love sea turtles someone should do something about the concern of human safety. He also said the ordinance causes South End residents to not come into the town for dinner, drive over the Southern Boulevard Bridge or the Lake Worth Bridge, drive to West Palm and then back over the bridges or not go out for dinner at all.
The beach in South East End is working to protect sea turtles by placing signs near hatching areas that warns people that they will be fined if they disturb nesting areas. The beach also posts signs telling people the times lights should be dimmed and the reason for the signs. Nesting areas are also roped off with caution tape to deter people from entering the area. Since sea turtles are disturbed by unnatural light, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee recommends that residents shield their lights by using aluminum flashing. which can be used to direct light and keep it off the beach. People are also advised to not use decorative lighting in areas that face the beach. They should also remove or turn off lights that cannot be re-positioned.
Sea turtles are making their way to the beach this month with some protection. Residents of Palm Beach Florida are being warned about turning off, shielding or re-positioning lights that face the beach to keep turtles safe. The lights need to be changed because sea turtles are disturbed by unnatural light. These animals are drawn towards the light, which not only cause them to stray away from the ocean but put them at risk for injury or death. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee recommends that the best type of lights people should use is a red or amber LED.
By Jordan Bonte