It’s taken time, many battles, and the city’s need for permits, but the city of Hollywood, Florida has agreed to dim the lights along its beaches during turtle nesting season.
As scientists have told us for years, and as volunteers with STOP have shown us in this vivid video, sea turtle hatchlings are attracted by light – and head towards it once they crawl out of the sand to begin what should be their voyage into the sea.
Hollywood, Fla. has resisted curbing its lighting — even installing bright, “old-fashioned” streetlights along the Broadwalk in 2007, which exacerbated the problem.
The city did not go willingly into this new ordinance – rather, state and federal officials refused to grant the city permits to fix eroding beaches if it didn’t take steps to protect turtles from the lights. Though done under duress, a state biologist pointed out that this is a big step:
Robbin Trindell, a biologist in charge of sea turtle protection for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the ordinance represents a “major step” toward assuring state and federal wildlife agencies that the city is committed to reducing the lighting threat to turtles. While she recognizes that the city faces a challenging situation, she said the proposed ordinance still contains too many exemptions for existing properties.
“There also seems to be an underlying theme that implementing lighting that minimizes impacts to sea turtles and their nesting beach is contrary to achieving public safety,” Trindell said. “We disagree with this and feel that there are many options for lighting that can be beneficial for both sea turtle protection and human safety.”
Photo by Ginny Dixon