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Posted: February 03, 2016

Study: Mood lighting helping to save endangered sea turtles

File photo of a baby sea turtle.
File photo of a baby sea turtle.

By Zach Dennis

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Palm Beach County, Fl. —

The key to helping the endangered sea turtle population in Florida may be the right lighting.

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In a new study by University of Central Florida biology professor John Weishampel, he found that bright lights “can deter a female from returning to her nesting site,” which in turn limits the amount of eggs being laid each year, TakePart reported. The findings, which were discovered in conjunction with his son’s high school project, found that mood lighting could help with bringing female turtles back.

“Sea turtle populations are doing pretty well in Florida, and it may be due in part to our coastal management (of light pollution),” Weishampel told TakePart. “It shows we affect turtles’ nesting, but at the same time, we’ve been successful at reducing that effect."

Weishamel and his son, Zachary, examined satellite imagery of artificial light along the beaches and found that light rules from local governments helped to “crack down on beachfront light pollutions in the early 1990s” and that has led to more success stories with 14,152 nests being recorded last fall, up from 6,023 nests in 2011.

“Florida’s coastlines are getting darker, and that’s a good thing, not just for sea turtles but for other organisms,” Weishamel told TakePart.

Palm Beach County was the first county in Florida to have a lighting ordinance because of the high nesting density in the area, which is higher than most other Florida counties, said marine conservationist Kirt Rusenko with the City of Boca Raton.

In the study, Jupiter Island, Florida was identified as an area with high nighttime light levels while Rusenko mentioned that the city of Boca Raton’s levels are going down.

Read more at TakePart.

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