Protecting Sea Turtles through Responsible Lighting Practices
An average of 135 loggerhead sea turtles nest on Key Biscayne’s beach between May and August each year. After eggs incubate in the sand about 45 to 60 days, the baby turtles will hatch and try to find their way to the Atlantic Ocean from June to the end of October. The conservation efforts of Key Biscayne’s residents and guests are vital to the enduring survival of sea turtles in south Florida.
The rise in coastal development has dramatically changed the beach environment for sea turtles. Now, in order to find suitable nest sites, adult female sea turtles must compete with tourists, coastal residents, condominiums, private residences, businesses and hotels.
The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is listed as a protected species by the State of Florida and the U.S. Government (Endangered Species Act, “Florida Marine Turtle Protection Act) and by the Village of Key Biscayne under Ordinance No. 2009-6, Lighting Regulations for Marine Turtles. By law, exterior oceanfront lighting shall not illuminate any part of the beach during sea turtle nesting and hatching season (May through October).
Artificial lighting disorients nesting female turtles and hatchlings returning to the Atlantic Ocean.
Lighting can prevent a nesting female sea turtle from coming ashore or after several attempts she may give up and lay her eggs in an unsuitable location. Artificial lights can also confuse females returning to the water, making it hard for them to find the ocean. Studies have shown that beaches lit with bright artificial lighting are used less frequently as nesting sites.
It is instinctive, for hatchlings to crawl towards the brighter horizon of the night sky reflecting off of the ocean. In many coastal areas however the sky over the dunes is lit up by thousands of artificial lights, confusing hatchlings. They crawl far from the ocean, making them more susceptible to dehydration, predators and the street. A single light left on or near a nest can disorient and kill hundreds of hatchlings. With only one in one thousand sea turtle hatchlings surviving to adulthood, reducing light pollution is key to their survival.
We ask that you either turn out the lights or close the curtains in your rooms by 9:00 pm each night from mid-April to the end of October.
To reduce light pollution from your balconies:
CLOSE ALL CURTAINS OR BLINDS AND TURN OFF ANY BALCONY
LIGHTING BY 9:00 PM EACH NIGHT.
TURN OUT THE LIGHTS IN YOUR ROOMS WHEN NOT IN USE.
NO FLASHLIGHTS, FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY OR CELL PHONE LIGHTS SHOULD BE ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT AND NEVER SHOULD BE POINTED AT A SEA TURTLE OR A NEST; BONFIRES ARE PROHIBITED.
DO NOT DISTURB SEA TURTLES, NESTS OR TURTLE EGGS ON OUR BEACH.
Other ways you can help:
–Identify problem lighting; if you can see your shadow on a dark night at the beach, the light is too bright.
–Replace problematic lighting with approved sea turtle friendly bulbs and fixtures or shield the light so it directs away from the beach.
–Use red or Amber LED bulbs, replace high pressure sodium vapor, incandescent, fluorescent and high intensity with low pressure sodium or low watt “bug light” bulbs.
–Reduce interior lighting with tinting or blackout curtains, move lights away from
–Plant vegetation buffers between lights and the beach.
–Avoid decorative up-lights, only light for safety.
–Become familiar with the city ordinance, lighting regulations for marine turtle protection.
Thank you for your cooperation!
For more information or any questions/comments please contact:
Oceanfront Lighting and Marine Turtle Code Enforcement Officer for the Village of Key Biscayne at: