How LED Lighting can help protect Florida’s Sea Turtles

How LED Lighting can help protect Florida’s Sea Turtles

  • Posted: Dec 03, 2015
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How LED Lighting can help protect Florida’s Sea Turtles written by Mike Smith of Brite LEDLighting find out more about mike http://sfpma.com/listing/brite-led-lighting/ Even with all the treasure discovered right off the coast of Florida, I consider the Sea turtles to be the Florida’s real “treasure”. These magnificent marine reptiles have been an endangered species for decades and their population has continued to decline due to pollution, shrimp trawling and continued development in their nesting areas. The sea turtles found most often off the Florida coast include: the Leatherback, Loggerhead, Green Turtle, Hawksbill and the Kemp’s Ridley, a turtle which you’ll probably never come across since it’s the rarest sea turtle in the world.     Artificial Lighting In Florida, the nesting season runs from April to September, and hatching season is between June and October. Artificial lighting used by condominiums and other properties on the beach can interfere with the natural behavior of adult and hatchling sea turtles. Sea turtles have a difficult enough time finding their way back to the ocean in the presence of artificial light. This often causes a phenomenon known as disorientation, or “misorientation”. We’ve all read stories of sea turtle hatchings getting inadvertently run over by crossing A1A instead of heading out to sea. Many of these incidents are caused by artificial lighting which drives them in the wrong direction, thus becoming a barrier for them to reach the safety of the ocean. Light level, artificial or otherwise, is a strong cue when turtles seek nest site selection. Other cues for sea turtles include the light color, (also known as wavelength) brightness, horizon shape, continuity, silhouette and slope. Adult sea turtles prefer darker beaches, which on the surface might sound good for turtles, staying away from developments and activity on a well lit the beach. However, studies have found that beaches with high light levels often have lower nesting densities; or no nests at all. This drives turtles to the few remaining darkened beach areas. This hurts turtles since it concentrates nesting areas and adversely affects the mortality the rate of hatchlings.     Unfortunately, there is no simple measure of light intensity which can reveal whether or not a light source will be a problem. The effects of artificial lighting on sea turtles may actually increase as ambient light-levels decrease on moonless nights. Since we know any visible light from an artificial light source causes problems for sea turtles the best judgment is still the eyes of a human observer on beach facing towards a property to check the lighting. Any light source producing light that is visible from the beach is likely to cause problems for nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings.   Lighting Regulations Most counties in the State of Florida with a coastline have passed lighting regulations which specifically cover the protection of sea turtles. Even in the counties which don’t have legislation protecting sea turtles, most of these cities are proactive in enacting their own sea turtle ordinances to help preserve the sea turtle’s nesting habitat. The State of Florida has developed a model lighting ordinance (62B-55, F.A.C.) to help guide local governments in creating lighting ordinances. Sea turtles are also protected by Florida Marine Turtle Protection Act, Chapter 370.12, and FL. Statutes.  …

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