Beach lights to be turned off for turtle nesting season
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Officials are turning out the lights to help guide baby turtles.
The lights along South Florida's beaches may be beautiful, but for sea turtle hatchlings, the lights can be deadly.
Richard Whitecloud of the Sea Turtle Oversight Protection of Broward explained sea turtles use the moon after hatching to find the ocean, but they often confuse lights on homes and businesses for the moon. The little turtles end up disoriented, stuck in dunes or run over when crossing roads. "Instinctively, sea turtles are hoping to be able to orient to the ocean, using natural, celestial light reflecting from the surface of the ocean," he said.
To give the baby turtles a fighting chance, the Florida Department of Transportation decided to turn off beach street lights until the end of nesting season in November.
Officials made the decision after conservation groups pushed for the change. "The turtle-friendly light: you should not be able to see the bulb or the point source of light coming from that fixture, so it should be shielded from view," said Whitecloud.
Those same groups used a grant to help change the lights on stretches of the beach in Fort Lauderdale, like those at the Lago Mar Resort.
The color of the bulbs are being changed as well. From white, which sea turtles mistake for the moon, to browns and reds.
BP Oil provided the money for the project. The company is contributing money to help animals affected after the oil spill in 2010.
It is estimated that 10,000 hatchlings of the one million turtles born on Florida beaches will be saved just by changing the lights. "We have a duty to make sure they nest and their hatchlings hit the water and continue their cycle of life," said Anthony Chatwin of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
All turtle-friendly street lights will remain lit.
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