Sea Turtles and Lights
Nesting | Hatching
| The problem with lights | Artificial
lighting affects nesting | Reducing the
impact of artificial lighting.
Florida Power & Light Company and the Florida Fish & Wildlife
Conservation Commission would like to inform beach residents and
visitors of the adverse effects of beach lighting on sea turtles
and offer solutions that will aid in conserving sea turtles that
nest on developed beaches.
Sea turtles are a part of FPL's ongoing
to the environment.
This topic discusses
- the problem with lights
- the effect of artificial lighting on nesting and
- reducing the impact of artificial lighting on sea turtles.
Each summer, Florida beaches host the largest gathering of nesting
sea turtles in the U.S. Female sea turtles emerge from the surf
to deposit eggs in sand nests and later, tiny hatchlings struggle
from their nests and scramble to the ocean. Nearly all of this activity
takes place under cover of darkness and relies upon natural light
environment too often disrupted by the addition of artificial lighting.
50 to 65 days after eggs were placed in the nest, hatchling sea
turtles tear themselves free of their papery eggshells beneath the
sand and with periodic bouts of thrashing, make their way to the
surface. At nightfall, as many as 100 hatchlings burst together
from the sand and immediately scramble toward the ocean. Moving
quickly from the nest to sea is critical for the survival of hatchling
The problem with lights
What happens when artificial light is visible
On beaches where artificial lighting is visible, the hatchlings'
important journey to the sea is disrupted. Hatchling sea turtles
emerging from nests at night are strongly attracted to light sources
along the beach. Consequently, hatchlings move toward streetlights,
porch lights or interior lighting visible through windows, and away
from the relative sanctuary of the ocean.
Results of misdirection
Hatchlings so misled fail to find their way to the sea, having
succumbed to attacks by predators, exhaustion, drying in the morning
sun, or strikes by automobiles on nearby parking lots and roads.
Quite literally, a single light left on near a sea turtle nesting
beach can misdirect and kill hundreds of hatchlings. Cases where
hatchlings have been lead to their death into flames of unattended
fires are testimony to the strong attraction hatchlings have for
Artificial lighting affects nesting
Artificial lighting also affects the nesting of female sea turtles.
Studies have shown that brightly lighted beaches are less frequently
used as nesting sites. In addition, females attempting to return
to the sea after nesting, like hatchlings, also can be lead astray
by nearby lighting.
Reducing the impact of artificial lighting.
Learn more about how you can
the impact of artificial lighting.