Sea Turtle Conservancy using grant to help fit properties with proper lighting to protect turtles

Turtle nesting season is right around the corner which means officials are making the extra effort to protect the little guys as they head to the water.

While nesting season is still a couple of months away, grant money is already funding artificial lighting.

As people from all over visit our beaches, soon too will our turtle counterparts.

“We have to adapt to the wildlife and protect them as much as possible,” said Donald Bonica who lives on Marco Island.

In an effort to protect them, the Sea Turtle Conservancy will help Marco Island properties ahead of nesting season.

“Sea Turtle Conservancy received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, which was a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and with that money, Sea Turtle Conservancy has the ability to retrofit properties all the way from Clearwater down through Marco Island,” said lighting project manager, Rachel Tighe.

Tuesday, the Conservancy shared tips for “friendly lighting” and explained how it benefits the turtles.

“We’re hoping by educating that we don’t have to do as much enforcement in that area,” said Marco Island Police Chief Tracy Frazzano.

“There has been a remarkable, positive response in this area to want to change their lights,” Tighe said.

It’s not only on Marco Island. Some properties of the Conservancy to our north are already retrofitted.

“So bright, white artificial lights can cause sea turtle hatchlings and even adult females to become disoriented, which means that they can just crawl all over the beach confused in any direction,” Tighe explained.

That can exhaust or eventually kill the turtles.

The Conservancy points to three key things: Use low-wattage, amber lights, keep them low to the ground and shielded.

The Sea Turtle Conservancy offers grant money to properties for retrofitting. The grant covers bulbs and fixtures, while the property is responsible for installation costs.

Sea turtle nesting season begins May 1 and runs through Oct. 31.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Briana Harvath
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