The Escambia County Exterior Lighting Ordinance will go in effect for all residents and businesses on Pensacola Beach beginning in 2018. (view the basics of the ordinance at https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/escambiaco/2017/01/03/escambia-county-fl-turtle-lighting-ordinance/. )
To become “turtle friendly”, exterior lighting will need to follow the “Big 3”:
- Keep it low
- Keep it long
- Keep it shielded
“Keep It Low” – refers to placement. Exterior lighting should be placed low so that it illuminates where you are walking but cannot be seen from the beach.
“Keep It Long” – refers to the wavelength of light. Studies show that sea turtles are attracted more to shortwave light (< 580 nm – white, violet, blue, green) than longer ones (> 580 nm – yellow, orange, red). Using yellow/amber lighting will reduce artificial lighting disorientation by the turtles.
“Keep It Shielded” – refers directing the light down and not “out” towards the beach. Again, this illuminates the walking area for the pedestrian but does not “spill” out to the beach where the turtles are.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy is a non-profit based in Florida who conducts research, conservation, and education with marine turtles. They have funding available for lighting retrofits to private beachfront property owners in Bay, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Escambia counties.
For more information on this funding opportunity call the STC at (352) 373-6441 or visit www.conserveturtles.org.
For more information on local sea turtle lighting vendors contact your county Sea Grant Extension Agent at your county extension office.