Town Turtle Lighting Programs

88

Turtle-Friendly Services Offered

With nesting sea turtle season officially underway on Wednesday, May 1, the Town of Fort Myers Beach is implementing two new programs to protect these natural treasures. You can now purchase turtle-friendly lights at Town Hall, and Rae Burns, the Town’s Environmental Technician, will conduct a free inspection of your home or business to ensure that your property’s lighting will not disorient sea turtles or hatchlings.

“We sell PAR20 bulbs,” said Burns. “The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approves these and, perhaps most importantly, so does Eve Haverfield of Turtle Time, Inc.! These are Amber in color with a wavelength turtles do not see, and they fit into most standard lighting fixtures. Each bulb costs $8.50 and that is exactly what the Town pays for them, so this is not a profit-making venture. Stop at the Town Hall lobby to purchase them, and we accept cash, checks or credit cards. We started out with 100 bulbs but half are already gone, so we are reordering, and expect to have enough in stock through the end of turtle nesting season on October 31.”

Burns explained that the Town decided to offer turtle friendly lights “because many people who live on the island said they had trouble locating them or were not sure what type to buy, so we cut out the middle section of that problem by having the correct ones right here, to make it easier on everybody. We began discussing this in January and actually had them here for purchase earlier this month. We want to spread the word about their availability, as some residents know about the program through your previous articles, and the people who already bought them from us are grateful, as they no longer have to worry about citations or any backlash, as well being the right thing to do for the turtles!”

If you want to shop for your own turtle-friendly lights, Burns recommended the 3-step process offered by the FWC: “Keep It Low, meaning mount lights low to the ground so they only illuminate what you need without scattering light to the beach; Keep It Shielded, so no light leaks onto the beach or open water; and Keep It Long, meaning the wavelength of the lights, with Amber LED’s the best. You can order Wildlife Friendly Fixtures directly from the FWC at www.myFWC.com.”

Lighting Inspection Program

In addition to offering turtle-friendly lights for purchase, Burns conducts a free turtle lighting inspection of your property. “I do these Wednesday evenings and have conducted several already over the last three weeks or so, including at the Riviera Club and several other condominiums, and for Lahaina Inn Resort, and these locations seem to really appreciate it. This is the first year the Town offers these inspections, to help keep the turtles from approaching buildings, so they stay on the beach and make it safely back into the Gulf, and they are going well. I must wait until sunset so I cannot start earlier than 8:30 p.m. and usually do them up to 10 p.m., with inspections generally taking 15 to 30 minutes. To schedule one, email me directly at rae@fmbgov.com and I will try to arrange one with you for the following Wednesday evening, unless we develop a backlog.”

Protecting nesting sea turtles in important to the Town, she explained, “so we are happy to sell the correct lightbulbs and conduct property inspections, as turtle nesting season is the perfect time for public outreach and education, so people provide safe venues not only for turtles but themselves. We do not want you to just turn off your lights so conditions are conducive for turtles but possibly not for you and your family, so we provide these measures to create a happy medium for people and turtles, as the Town would never make any recommendations that would jeopardize your safety. We are glad the island is a safe haven for nesting sea turtles, as the babies are super cute, much like nesting shorebirds, and the adults majestic, and our residents and visitors are proud that Fort Myers Beach is a Town known for protecting its wildlife!”

 

By Gary Mooney
gary@fortmyersbeach.news