site visits to detect lighting changes following permitted lighting plans. Witherington said the state has promulgated a
model lighting ordinance that specifies
how lighting near beaches should be managed to protect sea turtles. The majority of
coastal counties and municipalities with
sea turtle nesting have adopted ordinances
similar to this model, he noted.
Companies involved in the development
of light fixtures and lamps are showing an
interest in providing options that provide
minimal harm to marine turtles and other
wildlife while still contributing to the
safety and needs of the human population.
The FWC works with light manufacturers
to provide them with information on the
appropriate types of fixtures and wavelengths as well as on correct siting to minimize the impact on coastal turtle nesting
habitats. The staff then can provide coastal
property owners and local governments
with information on these fixtures and
how to use them properly.
Despite the continuing and extensive
development of Florida’s beaches, individual beaches have achieved striking reductions in lighting effects on sea turtles following light-management efforts, and
overall rates of hatchling disorientation
have not increased, Witherington said.
Statewide success in these efforts is difficult to assess, he added.
The solutions to these lighting problems
are not complex and do not require new
levels of understanding or technology,
Witherington said, noting that continued
vigilance and effort will lead to improvements today and in the future.
Partners in lighting
Conservation of threatened and endangered species such as marine turtles depends on cooperative partnerships that
consider and address the needs of both humans and wildlife, Witherington said. He
added that Florida’s efforts to offer lighting options to coastal communities that
create a safe, attractive environment for
both beachfront properties and marine turtle nesting habitats can succeed only
through partnerships such as between the
biologists who study these species and the
engineers and architects who provide appropriate lighting solutions.
A water beetle is attracted to a shiny red car.
Photo courtesy of György Kriska.
A stonefly lays eggs on granite. Photo courtesy of
Female sea turtles can be disoriented by artificial beach lighting. Photo courtesy of Blair Witherington.