Sea turtle nesting season starts on May 1 and runs through October 31, and early nesting activity has already been reported in Southwest Florida on Casey Key in Venice and Captiva Island here in Lee County.
It’s time now to remind all property owners about the lighting that is required to help protect turtles and hatchlings during nesting season. Conventional lighting scares females from nesting and disorients hatchlings away from the Gulf, leading to exhaustion, dehydration, and death from falling into storm drains, passing cars, and predators.
Long wavelength amber bulbs in downward directed fixtures that shield the bulb from the beach are encouraged everywhere on the island, not just beachfront, because so many structures and vegetation that previously shielded light from the beach are gone due to Hurricane Ian. Besides lighting, it is also just as important to draw curtains closed at night.
When it comes to windows and glass slider doors, the Town adopted new rules in 2022 for Sea Turtle Conservation. Windows and doors/sliders are required to have a light transmittance of 45% or less AND have a window cover installed. Read the Sea Turtle Conservation Ordinance.
Need professional help with bulbs and fixtures? The Sea Turtle Conservancy recommends Frontier Lighting and Synergy Lighting. Long wavelength amber bulbs can also be found online. Search for “sea turtle amber LED” and the bulb type that you need. It’s important to verify that the spectrum specifications of the bulb indicate 560 nm or greater.
One of the cheapest FWC certified wildlife lighting options that staff have found online is the FEIT A19 Red Bulb that screws into classic Edison fixtures. Please note, filter wraps, gels, and colored party bulbs are not compliant because sea turtles are sensitive to their light.
The Town will monitor lights on the beach during season. Efforts will focus on educating property owners on solutions. Property owners are encouraged to walk on the beach to see if their property’s lighting is visible from the beach and install wildlife friendly lighting. The Town’s Environmental Projects Manager Chadd Chustz is available for questions and light inspections. Contact him by email at email@example.com.
For more information about lights and keeping turtles and hatchlings safe during nesting season, visit https://www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov/963/Sea-Turtle-Information. Learn more about turtles and nesting season at www.turtletime.org