Coming March 1st to a Beach Near You: Sea Turtle Nesting Season

Author  Stephanie Kedzuf

BROWARD COUNTY, FL – Summer time is near which means Broward will soon have thousands of visitors on our beaches – turtle visitors. March 1st officially marks the start of sea turtle nesting season in Broward. Last year, the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program documented 2,890 nests on the County’s 24-mile coastline including Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park. The program began monitoring sea turtle nests in 1981 and long-term trends suggest increases in local nesting populations.

Three species of sea turtles typically nest on Broward’s beaches each season: leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea), loggerheads (Caretta caretta), and green turtles (Chelonia mydas). Adult females emerge from the ocean at night to lay their nests and use natural light from the moon and stars to orient back to the water. Unfortunately, artificial lighting near the beach can disrupt this sea-finding process and cause turtles to become disoriented. To reduce the amount of artificial lighting reaching the beach in Broward, local coastal municipalities enforce lighting ordinances during sea turtle nesting season March 1st - October 31st. Lighting near the beach should be “sea turtle-friendly” and follow all three criteria below, established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

  • Keep it low

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

  • Keep it shielded

The bulb, lamp, or glowing lens should be shielded from the beach. This includes interior lights. Curtains and shades can 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.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides a list of certified fixtures that meet all three criteria listed above. Alternatively, you can contact the County 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.