Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lights Out For Sea Turtle Nesting In Brevard County

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida -- Sea turtle nesting season has begun which means that beach lighting restrictions in Brevard County will be in effect from May 1st through October 31st.

Thousands of endangered and threatened sea turtles nest on Florida's Space Coast each summer. Leatherback sea turtles begin to come ashore in March and lay their eggs, followed by Loggerhead and Green sea turtle nesting just weeks later.  After 50 to 70 days of incubation in buried nests, hatchlings begin to emerge from the beach and dunes and orient themselves toward the brightest visible horizon in an attempt to find the sea.

Lights from beachfront structures that shine or reflect onto the beach can disrupt this instinctive process and cause hatchlings to crawl toward the upland lights instead of crawling to the sea. These disoriented hatchlings often get tangled in dune vegetation, eaten by predators, die from exhaustion or dehydration, or are occasionally run over by vehicles.

Even those who eventually find the ocean may have used up so much energy on the beach that they die before they find food. It is estimated that only 1 out of every 1,000 hatchlings manages to survive to adulthood.

To prevent hatchling disorientation, all indoor and exterior lights that are visible from the beach should be shielded, repositioned, replaced, or turned off after 9 p.m. during sea turtle season. Because adult nesting females can also be disoriented by improper lighting, lighting ordinances apply from May 1 – Oct. 31.

Brevard County residents and visitors are reminded to shield or turn off beachside lights, limit beach walking at night, avoid using flashlights or flash photography on the beach, and stay away from nesting sea turtles, hatchlings, or sea turtle nests.  Lights that shine or reflect onto the beach disrupt the instinctive nesting process.