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Tree Foundation - Trust for Environment Education, Conservation and Community Development, including TSunami Rehabilitation


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Frequently Asked Questions - Year of the Turtle

There are only few sea turtle nestings on this beach to justify beach-darkening efforts. Why is light management legislation needed?

Beaches where small numbers of turtles nest can be very important. The entire nesting range of a population may be made up of sparsely nested beaches. Moreover, any group of nesting turtles may constitute a genetically unique and vulnerable unit. Losing even small populations may mean the permanent loss of diversity. The irony in disregarding lighting problems at sparsely nested beaches is that artificial lighting may have caused the nesting to be so low. Many lighted beaches with little nesting may again attract more nesting turtles once they are darkened.

Will lighting on a pier and tall buildings, Affect Sea turtles on the adjacent beach?

Yes. Lighting on piers and tall buildings, is very difficult to shield from the beach. Hatchlings on adjacent stretches of beach may crawl for great distances in the direction of the lighted pier. Hatchlings that enter the water near the pier may linger in the glow beneath the lighted structure and fall prey to fish, also attracted to the light, rather than disperse offshore.

Will Crimes increase if the beach is not lighted?

Generally, beaches are not areas where there is a great need for crime prevention. Very little valuable property is stored on beaches and there is seldom much night time human activity to require security. Fortunately, areas adjacent to nesting beaches where people reside, work, recreate, and store valuables can be lighted with the necessary shields for protection, without affecting turtles on the nesting beach. It is here that light management is necessary. It costs little or nothing and may actually save money in electricity costs. Most of the essential

lighting that remains can easily be shielded so that the light performs its intended function without reaching the beach. Proper shields can be fashioned from inexpensive metal flashing and fastened with screws.

What should be done with misdirected hatchlings found on the beach?

Hatchling sea turtles found wandering away from the ocean should be taken to a darkened portion of beach and allowed to walk into the surf on their own. As they are know for natal nesting. Those that do not crawl vigorously can be placed in the water and allowed to swim away. In all cases, local natural resource or environmental protection agencies should be notified. Or contact TREE Foundation’s KAP members.

How can the sacrifice of human safety and security to save a few sea turtles be justified?

Thankfully, no such choice is necessary. The safety and security of humans can be preserved without jeopardizing sea turtles. The goal of any program to reduce sea turtle harassment and mortality caused by lighting is to manage light so that it performs the necessary function without reaching the nesting beach. Still, some may contend that any inconvenience at all is too much and that the concerns of humans should always outweigh those for turtles. People insistent on this generalization should not ignore the large and resolute constituency that values sea turtles. Sea turtles are valuable ecologically. Any protection awarded to ecological purposes is ultimately in our own best interests.

Proposal for funding support for the Year of the Turtle

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