Each year in Florida tens of thousands of sea turtle hatchlings are disoriented by poorly managed beachfront lighting. To address this problem, Sea Turtle Conservancy applied for and received grant funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to implement a program that increased sea turtle hatchling survivorship on Florida’s high-density nesting beaches by correcting problematic lights on private properties with histories of causing sea turtle disorientations. The latest technologies in “sea turtle friendly” lighting were used to effectively reduce and manage exterior lighting at multi-family properties and businesses throughout Florida’s Gulf Coast counties, which effectively darkened miles of prime sea turtle nesting habitat. Monitoring of nesting at project sites following lighting retrofits showed significant decreases in sea turtle disorientations, resulting in the safe emergence of thousands of hatchlings each year that otherwise would have been disoriented by lights.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy Lighting Retrofitting GIS Viewer was developed by Ripsin – GIS & Web as a tool to assist in the visualization and analysis of lighting retrofitting data collected by Sea Turtle Conservancy field staff throughout the Florida Gulf states and support the beachfront lighting program. This map was the result of creating and refining a database schema (then geodatabase) to effectively manage a multi-scientist data collection and reporting effort.
Running Collector for ArcGIS on iPads, data was collected by STC staff in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin Counties in Florida. This data includes details for properties, lighting fixtures (basic), light meter readings, night photos, dune plantings and project status details for lighting retrofitting grants by field staff of the Sea Turtle Conservancy. A public and office version of the map were created to assist staff with managing project details while also not publishing a cluttered map for the public to consume. This published map also includes reference data ½ mile from the coast/CCCL including parcels, parks, conservation lands (FMLA), FMLA 1000′ buffer, CCCL, nesting sea turtle densities (Green, Leatherback and Loggerhead) and beach access sites for reference.
Learn more about the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Lighting Program.
After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation awarded funding to several organizations to mitigate the impact of the spill in Gulf counties. The Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) has been a recipient of this funding since 2010.