With 114 sea turtle nests laid this year along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Share the Beach, and many other conservation organizations are making sure that number continues to grow next year.
Sea turtle nesting season runs from May until October, but the effort to educate and help grow the number of the endangered species runs year round.
Tuesday morning conservationists held a sea turtle lighting workshop to not only help more baby sea turtles reach the gulf in coming years, but to also keep those in the area who own beach front property from racking up tens of thousands of dollars worth of fines.
Blue and bright white lights on the beach disorient sea turtles, leading them off the path of water necessary for survival.
Under the Federal Endangered Species Act, any property owner who’s lighting disorients baby sea turtles could be subject to possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines.
Legally, property owners with documentation of disorienting any sea turtle hatchlings can face hefty federal fines.
“We certainly don’t want anyone to end up in court over an endangered species violation, so our hope is that everyone will come to the table and work with us and get the right things done,” said Shannon Holbrook, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist.
Keep in mind, those fines do run per animal, meaning a fine could be multiplied 80 to 100 times, based on the average number of hatchlings in a nest.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife says they are hoping to work with property owners along the beach front to help prevent them from possibly being buried under fines.
Conservationists recommend staying away from white or blue lights to comply with sea turtle friendly lighting, and make sure any outdoor lights are shielded from the beach and low to the ground.
Turtle friendly lights need to be amber or red, with a 580 or above wavelength.
Keep in mind, wavelength is just as important as color.
Conservationists also say turtle friendly lighting isn’t just for outdoor lights.
Make sure you close your curtains if you are staying on the beach at night.
Another lighting workshop will be held at The Beach Club in Fort Morgan Wednesday for anyone interested.
Conservationists say they are working on developing a certification for those properties and businesses that switch to turtle friendly lighting.