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It’s Turtle Time! Sea Turtle Nesting Season Begins March 1st

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Baby sea turtle with matching turtle jewelry by Norman Gitzen

BROWARD COUNTY, FL – The official start of sea turtle nesting season in Broward County is March 1 and residents are reminded to keep lighting near the beach “sea turtle-friendly.”
Last year, the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program documented more than 3,000 nests on the County’s 24-mile coastline (including the Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park) and some of the earliest recorded nests in program history.

Three species of sea turtles typically nest on Broward’s beaches each season: leatherbacks, loggerheads and green turtles. The Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program began monitoring sea turtle nests in 1981. Long-term trends suggest increases in local nesting populations.

Artificial lighting is one of the biggest threats to sea turtles in southeast Florida. Hatchlings use natural light from the moon and stars to locate the water after hatching, but artificial lighting near the beach can disrupt this sea-finding process and cause turtles to become “disoriented” or confused. To reduce the amount of artificial lighting reaching the beach in Broward County, local coastal municipalities enforce lighting ordinances during sea turtle nesting season (March 1-October 31). Lighting near the beach should be “sea turtle-friendly” and follow all three criteria below, established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC):

Keep it low
Fixtures should be mounted as low as possible to achieve their purpose.
Fixtures/bulbs should produce the lowest lumens (light output) necessary for the task.

Keep it shielded
The bulb, lamp, or glowing lens should be shielded from the beach.
This includes interior lights, curtains, shades, and blinds should be closed after sunset.

Keep it long (wavelength)
Fixtures/bulbs must produce long wavelength light (560 nm or longer) without filters, gels or lenses.
Amber and red LEDs are good examples of these types of light.
Interior lights can also cause sea turtles to become disoriented. Implement these tips to reduce the amount of light reaching the beach from interior sources:

Close curtains or blinds after sunset.
Move light sources away from windows.
Choose low wattage, warm white bulbs such as those with a color temperature of 3000K.
Use fixtures with shades instead of exposed bulbs.
Apply window tint of 15% inside to outside light transmittance.
FWC provides a list of certified fixtures that can be safely installed near sea turtle nesting beaches. Alternatively, you can contact the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program for assistance with light retrofitting or additional information.

For turtle nesting updates throughout the season and other environmental news, follow @BrowardCountyEnvironment on Facebook and @BrowardEnv on Twitter.