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Policy Initiatives: Coastal Policy InitiativeSTC's Beachfront Lighting Program

Coastal Policy: Beachfront Lighting

Nesting sea turtles once had no trouble finding a quiet, dark beach on which to nest; now they must compete with tourists, businesses and coastal residents for sandy beaches. U.S. beaches, popular with humans and turtles alike, are lined with condominiums, private residences, buisnesses and hotels. Lights from these developments can be problematic for nesting females and hatchlings. The lights can discourage females from coming ashore to nest. If a female fails to nest after multiple attempts, she will often resort to a less-than-optimal nesting spot resulting in few, if any, hatchlings surviving from the nest. Beachfront lighting can also cause sea turtle hatchlings to become disoriented and wander away from the ocean towards the brightest lights. Hatchlings that head toward artificial lights often die from dehydration, exhaustion, terrestrial predation and passing cars.

oastal counties and municipalities are responsible for developing and enforcing local lighting ordinances. The guidelines in these ordinances varies from place to place. Make sure to check with your local municipality/county to see what regulations may apply to the lights on your property. If you live in an area without an ordinance, it is still your responsibility to make sure your lights are not disturbing sea turtles.

Retrofitting Lights

Existing problematic lights can be retrofitted or replaced with new sea turlte friendly fixtures and lights.

Sea Turtle Lighting

Beachfront lighting can be properly managed to benefit humans and sea turtles.

Lighting Policy

The lights can discourage females from coming ashore to nest.

Education & Outreach Materials

Outreach materials and other educational information.

When choosing lighting for your coastal property, please remember these three simple rules:

    1. KEEP IT LOW Low mounting height and low bulb wattage. Flood, spot and pole lighting are highly discouraged.
    2. KEEP IT SHIELDED Use full cut-off fixtures that direct the light down to the ground. Shield fixtures so you cannot see the bulb, lamp or glowing lens.
    3. KEEP IT LONG Sea turtles are less disturbed by the long wavelengths of light (570 nanometers or longer), such as lights that are yellow, amber, or red in color.

Sea Turtle Conservancy
4424 NW 13th St, Suite B-11
Gainesville, FL 32609
Phone: 352-373-6441
Fax: 352-375-2449
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