Wildlife lighting workshop Mar. 23 in Santa Rosa Beach

March 15, 2010

Learn about the different types of lighting that work best for sea turtles and people

The Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, University of Florida Extension Office, and the South Walton Turtle Watch are offering a 2-hour workshop on Wildlife Lighting along the beachfront. Participants will learn about threatened and endangered sea turtles that nest in Walton and Okaloosa Counties. They will also see how different types of lights affect the turtles, and what lights work best for sea turtles and people. In addition, the workshop will include examples of different lights appropriate for beachfront development, and how property owners and managers can change or install the lights. Assistance is available to help property owners and managers ensure the installation of Wildlife Lights. Wildlife Lighting certification exams will also be available upon request. This workshop is open to the public and will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the South Walton Extension Office, 70 Logan Lane, in Grayton Beach, RSVP: 850-892-8172.

Proper beachfront lighting is crucial to the survival of sea turtles. The emergence from the nest and crawl to the sea is one of the most critical periods of a sea turtle hatchling’s life. Once they hatch, young sea turtles instinctively follow the brightest horizon to guide them into the water. But some types of beachfront lighting attract hatchlings and lead them away from their destination to the sea. Hatchlings that do not quickly make it to the sea become food for ghost crabs and birds, or become dehydrated and may never reach the sea. In addition, adult female sea turtles looking to nest have a tendency to avoid stretches of brightly illuminated beach. Simple changes in beachfront lighting can help hatchling turtles reach the sea and give adult female sea turtles suitable habitat in which to lay nests. As Deputy Field Supervisor Don Imm explains, “artificial
lighting is one of the greatest threats to nesting sea turtles and other nocturnal coastal species but the easiest
and most affordable to correct.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. For more
information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov