Livin’ on Turtle Time By Becky Aud
Livin’ on Turtle Time
By Becky Aud
Turtle season is from March 1st through October 31st. During the season, we all need to be livin’ on turtle time. This means lights out on the beaches. Not even a flashlight or cell phone.
Today our beaches are lined with hotels, businesses, condos and private residences. Lights from these developments can be detrimental for both nesting female sea turtles and hatchlings.
Artificial lights can discourage a female from coming ashore to nest. If a female fails to nest after multiple attempts one of 2 things can happen: she can resort to a less than optimal nesting spot or she may dump her eggs in the ocean. Either of these alternatives will result in few, if any, viable hatchlings from the 80 to 100 eggs she carries.
Beachfront lighting can also cause sea turtle hatchlings to become disoriented and wander away from the ocean, believing that the artificial light source is the sun or moon. Disoriented hatchlings that head towards artificial lights often die from dehydration, exhaustion, predators (crabs, racoons, birds, etc.) and passing cars.
Here’s how you can help and start livin’ on turtle time!
Turn off/shield all lights visible from the beach – Keep It Low – low mounting height and low bulb wattage. Do not use flood, spot or pole lighting. Keep It Shielded – Use full cut-off fixtures that direct the light down towards the ground. You should not be able to see the bulb, lamp or glowing lens. Keep It Long – Since sea turtle are less disturbed by long wavelengths of light, (570 Nanometers or longer) yellow, amber or red lights should be used.
Close Blinds by 9pm – The lights from inside your home/hotel room are highly visible and can be seen for miles on the beach at night. Closing blinds and curtains makes a huge difference.
Do not use flashlights or cell phones – Lights disrupt and/or disorient nesting sea turtles and hatchlings. Lights of any kind are not allowed on the beaches at night.
No flash photography – Not only is it disruptive, it may harm the sea turtle. Sea turtles have been blinded by flashes and other extremely bright lights.
Never shine light on nesting sea turtles or hatchlings – It is disruptive and may harm the sea turtle. You should never approach an adult turtle coming out of the water to nest (you should actually stand very still as to not scare her) or while she is actively nesting on the beach. You should always walk along the water line if on the beach at night.
Remove all beach furniture by 9pm – Sea turtles do not have a “reverse”. Meaning they can only move forward. Removing beach furniture can save a sea turtle from getting stuck and potentially harming itself on the furniture.
Destroy sandcastles and fill holes – after your beach day. Sandcastles or large mounds of sand can deter turtles from coming onto the beach to nest. Trenches and moats can trap hatchlings, which are very small, as they make their way to the ocean. Trenches, moats and holes can also be a tripping hazard for anyone on the beach. Additionally, do not dig holes or build sandcastles between the dunes and the high tide line as you might inadvertently dig up a nest.
Pick up all trash – Leaving trash on the beach is harmful not only to turtles, but to anyone who uses the beach in addition to marine life. Bring a trash bag and take everything off the beach with you when you leave. Leave no trace. Leave the beach nicer than you found it.
Brevard County, Florida, where the Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) headquarters is located, has a ‘lights out’ ordinance in effect from May 1st through October 31. If you would like more information and/or would like to get involved with STPS, you can visit or call us at: 111 S Miramar Avenue (A1A), Indialantic, Florida 32903 or 321-676-1701.