Sea turtle conservation efforts in the Florida Panhandle are getting a million dollar boost to install sea turtle-friendly lighting.
Marine biologists say keeping hatchlings in the dark is vital for their all-important dash to the ocean. That's why the state is offering some financial help for Northwest Florida coastal residents to install sea turtle-friendly lighting on their homes. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is allocating $1.6 million to fit properties in and around state parks with low wavelength, red bulbs and special fixtures that direct light away from the beach. Robbin Trindell oversees the FWC's sea turtle management program. She says a single porch light can distract turtles.
“It is extremely important, particularly in those areas like St. George Island or Cape San Blas, which have the highest density of sea turtle nesting in the Panhandle. And they’re pretty dark beaches, it’s all relative. But if you’re on a very dark natural shoreline, one light left on can make a tremendous difference,” Trindell said.
But she says it can be difficult to convince individual residents that they really do make a difference.
“But most of the impact that occurs comes from just houses and buildings around the parks, where people aren’t aware that the lights on their properties could be impacting sea turtles on the beaches adjacent to their property or within these darker parks," Trindell said.
The FWC hopes to make the changes in time for the next sea turtle season, which starts in May.