Did you know that the simple flip of a switch can spare countless endangered sea turtles with proper turtle lighting?
Nighttime lighting tends to lure hatchling turtles to crawl inland instead of seaward after emerging from their beach nests. As a result, they often die from dehydration, get run over or become prey for raccoons, crabs or ants.
The 2017 sea turtle nesting season on Florida’s Atlantic coast begins March 1st! So from March 1 through Oct. 31, all indoor and outdoor lights visible from the beach must be shielded, repositioned, replaced or turned off from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Bright beach lights, flashlights, flash cameras, video recorders and other types of artificial lighting aren’t allowed either.
Disturbing a sea turtle, its nests or hatchlings also is illegal.
Those who violate local marine turtle lighting ordinances face fines of up to $500 and six months in county jail.
At night wild sea turtles weighing hundreds of pounds lumber out of the sea and onto the sands in an ancient ritual to lay their eggs. While on the beach, sea turtles are timid and vulnerable and can be easily frightened away if disturbed by improper turtle lighting.
It takes between one to three hours for the female turtle to lay her approximately 110 ping-pong ball-sized eggs.
Sea turtles, among the oldest creatures on earth, have remained essentially unchanged for 110 million years. However, they face an uncertain future. Illegal harvesting, habitat encroachment, and pollution (physical and light) are only some of the things sea turtles must face as each species struggles to stay alive.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission helps to protect and conserve marine turtles and their habitat. You can help protect Florida’s endangered and threatened marine turtles by making a donation to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Your donation will help fund research at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and conservation efforts by the Imperiled Species Management Section. With each donation of five dollars or more, you will receive your choice of one of the waterproof decals featured. Current year marine turtle decals are available at Florida County Tax Offices.
Seeing a sea turtle crawl onto the beach at night and lay dozens of eggs is a special experience. You are witnessing one of earth’s oldest creatures perform a ritual that has been done for 110 million years.
It’s important for you not to disturb them, whether watching a large female turtle dig its sandy nest or the small hatchlings break out of their eggs and nests and head for the sea. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds everyone not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles or hatchlings.
Remember to call Harold Salkin, owner of Custom Lighting of America at 561.204.3000 for all your South Florida ocean front landscape lighting needs.