JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FLORIDA — A slight change in lighting could result in a big improvement on the sea turtle population.
That’s the hope of a new Jacksonville Beach city ordinance requiring residents on the coast to use amber-colored bulbs for all of their outdoors lights during sea turtle nesting season. Homeowners must also ensure none of their lights are pointed toward the beach, according to First Coast News.
Disoriented sea turtle hatchlings wander on the shore as they search for the ocean and often pursue artificial lighting from homes and businesses on the coast.
Florida Sea Turtle Watch Founder Casey Jones noticed that the brighter light bulbs were “killing baby sea turtles,” so he set out to do something about it.
“Every time they go the wrong way, they're crying out but nobody was hearing them. I made sure people were hearing them,” Jones told the station. “One in a thousand [sea turtles] make it to adulthood, so you got to give them that fighting chance.”
He went on to collect more than 100,000 petitions and submitted them to the city back in 2020. Pandemic concerns and supply chain issues resulted in a three year delay, but the policy has now gone into effect.
Sea Turtle Nesting season began on Monday in Jacksonville Beach. The annual conservation effort is a heart-warming staple of Florida beaches. Roughly 90 percent of all sea turtle nesting takes place on the Sunshine State shoreline.
“In order to prevent nesting and hatchling turtles from wandering off track, your beachfront property should use sea turtle friendly lighting,” the Sea Turtle Conservancy recommends. “You can also help by closing drapes and blinds, and shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach. Sea turtle hatchlings can become easily disoriented by bright lights on the coast from hotels and beachfront properties.”