Sea turtles are being scared off nesting sites by bright lights - but energy efficient LEDs could provide a solution
For those of us of a certain age, the phrase "Turtle Power" will bring back memories of green, cartoon superheroes named after Renaissance masters, sticking it to the evil Foot Clan before returning to the sewer to chow down on pizza with an outsize rat. We'll leave you to guess which part of that is eerily reminiscent of the Tank's Friday night.
But it turns out not all turtles are ninjas - or even teenage - and many struggle to master the basic karate skills needed to defend themselves in the wild. So perhaps it's no surprise the bright lights of houses overlooking the Florida beaches is putting off the rare loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles from crawling up the sand to nest.
Even more worryingly, baby sea turtles are so confused by the lights they're heading inland rather than out to the sea and being picked off by predators or dying of dehydration. A polite enquiry as to whether the young turtles were simply heading for Disney World was rather brusquely dismissed.
But never fear animal lovers - help is at hand. Canadian firm Dasal Architectural Lighting has designed two new outdoor LED downlights that are not only energy efficient, but have been also certified as ‘turtle safe' by the good people at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Wildlife Friendly Lighting Program - much to the delight of conservationists.
"90 per cent of sea turtle nesting occurs on continental US beaches and all of these species are either threatened or endangered," said Karen Shudes, whose actual job title is ‘sea turtle lighting specialist' at the Sea Turtle Conservancy. "We appreciate those manufacturers who work collaboratively to give property owners more options and produce the right lighting for use near critical turtle nesting sites."
However, it seems there's still a battle to be won here. According to Dasal, "Many property owners choose amber LED replacement bulbs for sensitive nesting beaches, but unfortunately place them in light fixtures not designed for turtles or LEDs."
Now the Tank is no expert electrician - we have to pretend we understand the old "how many hipsters does it take to change a lightbulb' gag. But we're pretty certain a light fixture suitable for turtles has yet to be made.
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