It’s sea turtle nesting time, and beachfront properties are required to reduce bright light to help our deep sea friends have a more successful season.
If you’re staying on or near a beach with sea turtles during your next Global Discovery Vacations trip, nighttime strolls along the beach might be a little darker than usual. Many cities and counties require beachfront properties to reduce ocean-facing bright lights during sea turtle season.
Sea turtles used to have plenty of dark, quiet places on the beach to lay their eggs, but now, there are people, houses, hotels and noise along most popular beach fronts. The biggest culprit is bright light.
Lights discourage females from nesting. If a female fails to nest, she will resort to less-than-optimal nesting spots or deposit her eggs in the ocean. This greatly reduces the survival outlook for hatchlings, which is unfortunately slim already.
Lighting near the shore also can cause hatchlings to become disoriented and wander inland, where they often die of dehydration or are harmed by predators. Hatchlings have an innate instinct that leads them in the brightest direction, which is normally moonlight reflecting off of the ocean. Excess lighting from the nearshore buildings and streets draw hatchlings toward land, where they are put in high danger.
If you haven’t experienced just how adorable (and fragile) hatchlings are, watch as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida rescues these little guys.
In the U.S., the lighting ordinance applies May 1-Oct. 31. If you’re visiting a sea turtle-friendly beach destination during these months, be sure to bring a flashlight. You can also enjoy some sea turtle spotting during nighttime beach walks.
Remember, if you do spot a sea turtle or eggs, leave them well enough alone. These creatures are protected, and touching them or their eggs is illegal. If you see a turtle in danger, call the local stranding agency.
Have you been to the beach during sea turtle season? Tell us where you went and what it was like.