Florida Residents Can Help Threatened Sea Turtles By Simply Turning Off Their Lights

Florida Residents Can Help Threatened Sea Turtles By Simply Turning Off Their Lights

Florida is home to five sea turtle species - all are either threatened or endangered. People who live on the coast are encouraged to take steps to help preserve these amazing reptiles.

Sea turtles have survived over 100 million years but their numbers continue to drastically decline due to the multiple threats they face. Plastic pollution, entanglement in fishing gear, poaching, and habitat loss are just a few. However, most people may not realize that artificial lighting is also a danger to the sea turtles.

Nesting season occurs in the Sunshine State from May through October and results in up to 84,000 nests along the coast each year.

One easy way residents and visitors can help sea turtles is by turning off beachfront lights. Artificial lights are not only hazardous to hatchlings but can also deter females from laying their eggs on the beach.

Once a female turtle buries her eggs in the sand it takes 8 weeks for the hatchlings to surface. The baby turtles instinctively head towards the brightest direction, which is the ocean if no artificial lights are in the area.

If bright lights from nearby buildings are shining on the beach the hatchlings will head towards them and become dehydrated or killed by a predator. Disorientation, as it is called, kills thousands of hatchlings every year.

"A single light can cause hundreds of misdirected hatchlings to be killed by automobiles on nearby roads and parking lots, dehydrate in the morning sun, and increase their chance of being killed by predators," states Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Hatchlings already have a low survival rate, only one in 1,000 make it to adulthood, so we must do all we can to help these little ones have a fighting chance.

FWC suggests the following alternatives to artificial lighting: motion sensors, dark window tinting and curtains to cover inside light, and yellow incandescent bulbs. Aside from helping sea turtles, residents could experience lower electric bills, so it is a win-win!

Hatchlings typically emerge at night and anyone who happens to encounter them are asked to watch from a distance, allow the baby turtles to crawl to the water on their own, and keep all lights off.

For more information on how artificial light impacts sea turtles and what is being done to reduce it visit FWC.

Continue to help sea turtles and other marine animals by taking the plastic bag pledge below and reducing plastic pollution.

Andrea Powell

Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast who resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.

Back to blog