The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) developed a model lighting ordinance as a guideline to help coastal counties and municipalities in Florida develop their own local ordinances to protect sea turtles from the adverse effects of artificial lighting. However, not all coastal governments have adopted a lighting ordinance, and a number of those that have lack the funding or political will to properly enforce the regulations. As a result, there are still many important nesting beaches in Florida with high disorientation rates due to bright beach front lighting.
What You Can Do
- Many of Florida's coastal communities have passed lighting ordinances that encourage residents to turn off beachfront lights during sea turtle nesting season. Understanding and following the requirements of these ordinances is vital to the survival of sea turtles;
- Go out to the beach at night and identify what lights on your property are visible from the beach. If the lights are not needed for safety, simple 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;
- 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 or blinds after dark to reduce the amount of visible light reaching the beach;
- Only light for safety, avoid decorative or uplights during the nesting & hatchling season;
- Place security lighting on motion-sensors. Having a light suddenly turn on can be effective security.
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
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