Title

Mis/Disorientation Events from 2006 and 2007 Nesting Seasons in Broward County, FL USA

Event Name/Location

28th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, Loreto, Mexico, January 22-26, 2008

Document Type

Poster

Publication Date

1-2008

Abstract

Florida is a major rookery site for Atlantic loggerhead (Carretta carretta) and important nesting grounds for green (Chelonia mydas) and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles. South Florida is becoming a highly urbanized area with increased coastal development (i.e. condominiums, businesses, and hotels). Artificial lighting from these structures repels nesting females and impairs the natural cues used by hatchlings to orient to the sea, thereby increasing mis- and- disorientation events of the sea turtles. Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Broward County Environmental Protection Department attempted to address this problem by relocating nests to darker beaches. Unfortunately, this alternative enabled residents and commercial businesses to prolong compliance to established lighting ordinances. In an attempt to have the lighting ordinances enforced, FWC recently ordered that fewer nests be relocated in Broward County, FL. As a result, many hatchlings during the nesting seasons of 2006 and 2007 were adversely affected by beach lighting and suffered high mortality due to exhaustion, dehydration, and predation. Municipalities with established lighting ordinances and the level of enforcement have identified areas in need of improvement and further enforcement. The effectiveness of existing ordinances has also shown strengths and weaknesses within the legal system. In addition, areas without lighting ordinances have been identified and proposed ordinances are currently being sought. The purpose of this project was to examine mis-and-dis orientation events over the past two nesting seasons, where less nest relocation occurred, in order to ascertain any significant differences. With this information, current lighting ordinances and proposed lighting ordinances can be modified to ensure the greatest survival rate for sea turtles.

Comments

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-SEFSC-602

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