Don’t Light the Way for Florida Turtles

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – There are some very simple things Florida residents can do will help sea turtles survive and thrive. The Sea Turtle Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife say a great start is to install turtle-friendly lighting in developments along the coast.

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Gary Appelson is the policy coordinator for the Conservancy. He says a few simple lighting changes would make a big difference for sea turtles.Loggerhead Hatchling (Photo: USFWS)

“One change is to use amber-colored lighting. Also, you lower and direct the lighting so it’s not shining on the beach, and you shield the lighting.”

Those measures would make it less likely that the turtles will get confused and head for the lights rather than the ocean after laying their eggs, he explains. Keeping trash secured is another way to help the turtles, he adds, because predators that eat eggs will not be attracted to the beach by garbage.

Appelson also points out a side benefit of installing turtle-friendly lighting, which in many cases incorporates LED technology.

“Very surprising and significant energy efficiency and cost-savings occur by retrofitting with sea-turtle-friendly lighting.”

Elizabeth Fleming, Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders' Elizabeth Fleming

Elizabeth Fleming, the Defenders of Wildlife Florida representative, says people can take other easy steps beyond lighting to help the sea turtles, as well.

“Keeping the beaches free of trash is one of the best ways to ensure that we’re not attracting even more predators onto the beach.”

Animals like foxes and raccoons are attracted to trash and love a meal of turtle eggs, she says.

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Learn more about how Defenders is working to protect sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.

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