Since 2014, STC has worked with private property owners the Florida Panhandle to reduce hatchling disorientation caused by beachfront lights. Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund has supported STC’s efforts to retrofit lights using the newest sea turtle-friendly bulbs and fixtures.
Phase I of the project, which concluded last year, focused on properties in Gulf, Walton and Franklin counties and removed 4,491 unshielded fixtures and white lights. Nesting habitats in front of these properties were darkened significantly, and data shows the rate of hatchling disorientation went from 50 percent of all nests to 0 percent after the retrofits.
Phase II of the project, underway now, is retrofitting beachfront properties in Bay, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia counties—also in the Panhandle.
As part of the project, earlier this year STC began conducting sea turtle lighting workshops for code enforcement and building professionals in Bay, Okaloosa and Escambia counties. The workshops have been well attended and helped increase awarness among participants about sea turtle biology, turtle lighting laws and best management practices for retrofitting exterior beachfront lights.
STC is also hosting a workshop on lighting at the International Sea Turtle Symposium in Las Vegas in April. Later in the year, STC will conduct 12 more lighting workshops for builders and code enforcement personnel around Florida, thanks to a grant from the Florida Sea Turtle Grants Program. For more information about STC’s lighting program, visit www.conserveturtles.org