The Town of Fort Myers Beach in conjunction with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will host a turtle lighting seminar on Wednesday, June 14, at the Bay Oaks Recreation Center from 11 a.m. to roughly 12:30 p.m. This program is free and open to the public. Bay Oaks is at 2731 Oak Street, adjacent to the Beach Elementary School.
“This is a part of my job, as a lighting specialist for the FWC,” says Tonya Long, a Fish & Wildlife Biologist III who will lead the program. “This is a great opportunity to sit down with the public, in a direct educational outreach, to focus on local government and code enforcement, as well as what everyday beach property owners can do to protect the globally-endangered nesting sea turtles through proper lighting. It has actually been quite some time since we conducted a sea turtle lighting workshop in Southwest Florida, as we do not have anyone stationed there, so I am happy to do a class in conjunction with the Town.”
“Most importantly,” emphasizes Tonya, “we will preach the FWC’s three Golden Rules of beachfront lighting that people can implement on their own properties. These are ‘keep lights low; keep them long, and keep them shielded!’ While the first and third are relatively self-explanatory, the middle one pertains to the wavelength of the lights. Sea turtles can discriminate between different colors of light, so the longer the wavelength, the better it is for them, with an excellent example being LED Amber ones.”
Tonya says that participants “will learn a little bit about the background information of sea turtles and their nesting season, and what goes on and why that is a problem. We will examine the connection between sea turtles and lights, and the potential impacts we cause from beachfront lights on turtles.” Hatchlings, upon their birth, move toward the brightest light, normally moonlight reflecting off the water, but if they see a brighter, usually artificial light, they move toward that, sealing their doom.
“For those who attend,” says Tonya, “we hope they will better understand and learn ways to help out our sea turtles, as their nesting on our beaches is so very special.” For questions about the free program, please contact the Town of Fort Myers Beach at 239-765-0202.