Sea turtles, which are among the oldest creatures on earth, have remained essentially unchanged for 110 million years; however, they now face an uncertain future. With illegal harvesting, habitat encroachment and pollution, sea turtles must face as each species struggles to stay alive.
For millions of years female sea turtles have been coming ashore to lay their eggs on beaches. Hatchling sea turtles have always been guided to the ocean by an instinct to travel away from the dark silhouettes of the dune vegetation and heads toward the brightest horizon, which was the light from the sky reflecting off the ocean from the moon.
Now days, beaches where sea turtles come to lay their eggs have been developed with private homes and condominiums. These properties require lighting, which is artificial. However, being so close to the ocean the lighting will deter females sea turtles from nesting, and if they do nest–the sea turtle hatchlings are disoriented.
Lights drive the hatchlings inland, toward the artificial lights and they will often die from dehydration, get run over my automobiles, or even preyed upon by fire ants and ghost crabs. The use of “sea turtle friendly” lighting keeps the hatchlings from crawling inland where they wouldn’t survive.
The Basic Principles of Turtle Friendly Lighting
Keep it low. Always mount fixtures as low as possible to minimize light trespass. Also, use the lowest amount of light needed for the task to minimize the lumens.
Use shielding – Fully shield the light so bulbs and the lamp lenses are not visible to minimize light trespass to the beach.
FWC APPROVED SEA TURTLE LIGHTING GUIDELINES
All exterior fixtures on the seaward and the shore perpendicular sides of the building (and on the landward side of the building if they are visible from the beach)
should be well shielded, full cut-off, downward directed type fixtures. All exterior fixtures on the landward side of the building should be downward directed
ACCEPTABLE LAMPS / BULBS AND OTHER LIGHT SOURCES
Long wave length lights, e.g. those that produce light that measures greater than 580 nanometers on a spectroscope, are necessary for all construction visible
from and adjacent to marine turtle nesting beaches. Bright white light, such as metal halide, halogen, fluorescent, mercury vapor and incandescent lamps will not
be approved. Filters are unreliable and not allowed. Limited use of shorter wavelength lights may be approved in areas where direct and indirect light or glow
could not possibly be visible from the beach upon approval by FWC.
• Low Pressure Sodium (LPS) 18w, 35w
• Amber or Red LED (true red or true amber, diodes, NOT filters)
• Turtle Safe Lighting, Inc (TSL) coated, compact fluorescent (CF) lamps (maximum 13 watts) (Filter sleeves and dichroic filters are not allowed)
• True red neon
• Other lighting sources that produce light of 580 nm or longer
STATEMENT ABOUT POOL LIGHTS ON LIGHTING PLAN
The plan shall reflect that the interior swimming pool and pool deck lights shall be turned off while the pool is closed during sea turtle nesting season (May 1st –
October 31st). The use of an automatic timer is acceptable. This may be specified in the notes section on the drawing and should be included in the FDEP
STATEMENT ABOUT TURTLE GLASS ON LIGHTING PLAN
The plan shall reflect that tinted glass or film with a visible light transmittance value of forty-five (45) percent or less shall be applied to all windows and doors within line of sight of the beach. This includes the seaward and shore-perpendicular sides of the structure. This may be specified in the notes section
on the Lighting Plan architectural drawing and should be included in the FDEP Permit Conditions.
Timers may be used only for in-pool and pool deck lights when the pool is closed.
THE FOLLOWING ARE NOT ALLOWED
● Private balcony lights ● Up lights ● Tree strap downlights ● Decorative lighting, not necessary for human safety or security
● Pond lights ● Dune walkover lighting ● Fountain lights on beach or shore perpendicular side of structure