Sea turtles used to have plenty of dark, quiet places on the beach to lay their eggs. Now, there are people, houses, hotels and noise along most popular beachfronts. 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 Sea World Orlando Animal Rescue Team rescues these little guys.
Volusia County developed a Beach Lighting Management Plan and is working with oceanfront property owners to reduce lighting problems along beaches. The lighting ordinance applies until the end of the season on Oct. 31.
“For Sea Shells Beach Club, following this ordinance means we will turn off all the lights visible from the ocean front,” Sea Shells Beach Club Manager Brook Maynard said. “This will create limited lighting on and around the pool deck and on walkways on the ocean side of the property, so guests should be careful when walking in these areas at night.”
Maynard suggests guests bring a flashlight for any after-dark beachfront walks. On the bright side (ha ha), guests can also enjoy some sea turtle spotting along the beach at night.
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 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC or *FWC from your cell phone.
Have you been to Sea Shells Beach Club during sea turtle season? Tell us about your experience.