Too much light near Marco Island nesting sea turtles

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:

We are halfway through sea turtle nesting season and people are already interfering with young hatchlings.

The sea turtle nesting season in Florida runs from May through October. Mike McNees, the Marco Island city manager, said now is the time for people to shield their lights and turn them off.

“Well it’s an issue every year,” McNees said. “It’s an annual thing. It happens all the time. And yes, we do try to enforce it.”

So far this season, Marco Island Police Dept. has issued 31 violations related to lighting restrictions, 11 more than the total for last season. McNees stresses how important it is for people to be aware of the ordinances. Light of nearly any kind interferes with the sea turtle hatchlings.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said thousands of hatchlings die each year because they become disoriented from artificial lights. Beachfront properties, like The Somerset of Marco Island, have to restrict light sources.

David Miller, general manager of The Somerset of Marco Island, told WINK News his staff has to inform rental agencies and guests.

“By 9 p.m. every night during turtle season,” Miller said, “they have to shut their blinds and turn off their lanai lights.”

Officers have documented several false crawls because of lighting issues this year. It is imperative to follow them for the turtles to have a safe place to nest this season and beyond.

“We’re watching out for the turtles and try to make sure people are aware,” McNees said.

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