Sea Turtles and Artificial Beachfront Lighting
Nesting sea turtles once had no trouble finding a quiet, dark beach on which to nest, but now they must compete with tourists, businesses and coastal residents for use of sand beaches. U.S. beaches, popular with humans and turtles alike, are now lined with seaside condominiums, houses, and hotels. Lights from these developments discourage females from nesting. If a female fails to nest after multiple false crawls, she will resort to less-than-optimal nesting spots or deposit her eggs in the ocean. In either case, the survival outlook for hatchlings is slim.
Lighting near the shore also can cause hatchlings to become disoriented and wander inland, where they often die of dehydration or predations. Hatchlings have an innate instinct that leads them in the brightest directions, which normally is the moonlight reflecting off the ocean. Excess lighting from the nearshore buildings and streets draw hatchlings toward land, where they may be eaten, run over, or drown in swimming pools.
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, coastal communities enacted lighting ordinances to restrict artificial beachfront lighting to combat the negative effects on sea turtles and hatchlings. With guidance from the Sea Turtle Conservancy, coastal communities now have resources to ensure the safety of these ancient mariners.
For information on what you can do as a homeowner, business owner, or municipality, please see the videos below.
Sea Turtle Biology
Lighting Laws and Evaluating the Degree of the Problem
Best Practices for Managing Artificial Light
We use wildlife-friendly lights at the beach.