Sea turtle nesting season takes place from May 1-Oct. 31 on Southwest Florida beaches. On nesting beaches, light from waterfront properties can disorient nesting female turtles and their young, which emerge at night and use dim natural light to find the sea. Also, beach furniture, trash and other obstacles can impede sea turtles and their young.
Residents should go out to the beach at night and identify what lights on their property are visible from the beach. If the lights are not needed for safety, simply turn them off. If the lights cannot be turned off, shield, redirect or lower the height of the lights so they are no longer visible from the beach.
Replace problematic lights with turtle-friendly fixtures designed to direct light where you need it and away from the beach. Use red or amber LED bulbs (which are less disruptive to nesting sea turtles and hatchlings) in shielded, downward directed turtle-friendly fixtures. You should also replace high-pressure sodium vapor lights with low-pressure sodium lights. Reduce interior lighting problems by applying window tint at a 15% light transmittance level, or close opaque curtains of blinds after dark to reduce the amount of visible light on the beach. Only light for safety, and avoid decorative or uplights during the nesting and hatchling season.
Here are some additional “do and don’t” tips from Mote Marine Laboratory to keep our beaches turtle-friendly:
On the water:
If you see sea turtle hatchlings that are not making their way to the water or if you notice any unusual sea turtle nesting activity, please call Mote Marine’s sea turtle program at 941-388-4331 for instructions.