A Turtle’s Journey: Stop using white flashlights on the beach

A Turtle's Journey

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — Going to one of Alabama’s beaches at nighttime can be peaceful and very fun. But there is one reason why you should keep your bright white lights at home.

LIGHT POLLUTION HARMS SEA TURTLE NESTING SEASON

Sara Johnson with Share the Beach says so many people on the beaches at night could be a big factor in the low nest numbers we have seen this season.

Share the Beach nest numbers over the years:

Year on record# of Nests by June 24
202031
201957
2018N/A
201772
201697

“The white light causes disorientations and it is very confusing to them. Sea turtles like a nice dark beach whether hatching or nesting. So when they come up and encounter all of this light they just have no idea what to do. “

Sara Johnson, Share The Beach Director

On Saturday, June 20. Baldwin County beaches reported 9 false crawls.

So, if a female is trying to come up out of the water and all they see are lights everywhere. They are either gonna go the wrong way, they are gonna wander around all over the beach and get lost and get exhausted, sometimes they can get stuck. Other times they are gonna come out and see the light and go right back into the water. ”

Sara Johnson, Share The Beach Director

False crawls are when turtles come up on land but turn around without nesting. Since Saturday, Baldwin County has reported 15 more false crawls and only three nests.

If a turtle does not nest, those eggs can be dropped into the ocean and the hatchlings won’t have a chance at survival.

“I think that picture specifically, the one we have circulating around right now, it’s miles, you can see miles, its flashlight upon flashlight upon flashlight. No sea turtle is going to come out of the water and go ‘Yeah, I want to nest here’.”

Sara Johnson, Share The Beach Director

There is night time lighting already on the beaches, from condos or the at piers. Johnson says if you give your eyes about 10-15 minutes to adjust, those will be plenty to enjoy the beach.

“A lot of people go out to fish at night, a lot of people go out to ghost crab hunt. It’s a family past time tons of people do it, I have done it with my kids, but we want to avoid using those white flashlights.”

Sara Johnson, Share The Beach Director

What you can do:

  • Enjoy ghost crab hunting during dusk hours
  • Bring a red filter or buy a red flashlight if you go out after dark
  • Start to clear the beach after 8 p.m.

For more information about Share the Beach, click here.

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