This year’s sea turtle nesting season is over, but you still can help these rare reptiles. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is encouraging coastal business owners and homeowners in northwest Florida to consider investing in sea turtle-safe lighting upgrades in time for the 2017 nesting season, which begins in May.
“Many Florida beachfront communities and property owners living within 1,000 feet of state and county parks in northwest Florida have an opportunity to take advantage of a new program to reduce lighting impacts to sea turtle nesting beaches,” said Dr. Robbin Trindell, who leads the FWC’s sea turtle management program.
The FWC has secured funds to assist local communities and property owners around parks with retrofitting or updating their exterior lights with more appropriate sea turtle-friendly fixtures to reduce lighting impacts on adjacent beaches. Updates may include new outdoor light fixtures, blinds, curtains, tinting windows or walkway lighting.
Beachfront property owners can email SeaTurtleLighting@MyFWC.com to find out more about this program or for information about ensuring lights on your beachfront property or in your coastal community are the right lights to help protect marine turtles.
When it comes to appropriate lighting for sea turtles, remember:
- Keep It Long – Long wavelength lights are better for turtles. Look for the red and amber lights that have been certified as turtle-friendly by the FWC.
- Keep It Low – Illuminate walkways by installing lights close to the ground.
- Keep It Shielded – Focus lights down, not up or outward, to avoid confusing nesting turtles and hatchlings.
- Shut Curtains and Blinds – Close curtains and draw blinds on beachfront windows and doors at night.
The FWC launched a campaign this summer to educate residents and visitors in northwest Florida on ways to help conserve sea turtles and their hatchlings. Tips include:
- Keep your distance from nesting sea turtles, their nests—whether eggs are visible or not—and their hatchlings. Nests are usually marked with yellow signs, but not always.
- Don’t shine lights on sea turtles or hatchlings or take photos of them – including cellphone photos.
- Replace incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity bulbs with FWC-certified low-wattage, long wavelength options available in red or amber colors. Turn out outdoor lights at night when not needed.
- Bring furniture (such as beach chairs, umbrellas, buckets and tents) back to your house, condo or hotel at the end of the day, and fill in holes or level piles of sand before nightfall.
- Properly dispose of any trash, food or other litter in covered trash cans to avoid attracting predators to the nests.
The FWC works to conserve Florida sea turtles, including coordinating nesting beach survey programs around the state. Report sick, injured, entangled or dead sea turtles to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-3922, #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
For more on Florida’s sea turtles, visit MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle, and click on “Sea Turtles & Lights” or “Wildlife Friendly Lighting” for more information on keeping beaches dark and safe for sea turtles.