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Shedding Light on Sea Turtle Lighting

Shedding Light on Sea Turtle Lighting

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and coastal local governments regulate what lighting is permitted to avoid and minimize the impacts to sea turtles, but why is artificial coastal lighting a problem? In the southeastern United States, sea turtle hatchlings begin to hatch throughout the months of June through October, most often at night when the sand becomes cool. Sea turtle hatchlings have the instinct to move towards the brightest direction. On a natural, unlit beach, the brightest direction is most often the horizon line where the moon is reflected by the ocean. Artificial light from coastal developments can result in the disorientation and subsequent death of thousands of hatchlings each year in Florida.

Kathleen O. Berkey, AICP

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