(CMR) The Department of Environment is urging people with beachside properties to use turtle-friendly lighting as some 25 hatchlings were misoriented last week due to unfriendly lighting. Only a few of the hatchlings were recovered, the Department said.
Only around 1 in 1000 endangered baby sea turtles make it to adulthood, so they need all the support they can get.
The Department said on 3 August 3rd, the DoE's Turtle Hotline received a phone call from Milena Conolly, who reported a lone sea turtle hatchling on the beach. The turtle team checked the location and realized this hatchling was from an unknown nest.
Ocean Sciences student and DoE Intern Danielle Seales investigated and unfortunately discovered that many hatchlings from the nest had been attracted to artificial lights as far as two condos down the beach and had not reached the water. Tracks on the sand indicated more than 25 hatchlings had misoriented, and only a few were recovered.
The DoE Turtle Team monitors every sea turtle nest across the island to ensure the hatchlings make it safely to the sea. However, sometimes nests are unidentified because the nesting mum's tracks are either washed away by high tides or raked over by people cleaning the beach. Unfortunately, this means the team cannot ensure the safety of the hatchlings.
The Department said people should consider turtle-friendly lighting because sea turtle hatchlings are attracted to white lights and will become exhausted and die when they do not find the ocean. Every year, DoE retrieves hatchlings from swimming pools, drains, car parks, roads, hedges, and iron shore due to artificial lighting.
Turtle-friendly lighting is warm, pleasing, amber-colored lights that are still bright enough for people and safety and use very little energy, the Department said. However, not all amber light is turtle-friendly, and not all lights labeled turtle-friendly are made to the correct standards for turtle safety.
Persons can contact the DoE for assistance in selecting the correct type of lights for their property. For those who live on critical nesting habitats, the DoE has funding to assist with turtle-friendly lighting retrofits.