Light pollution
  • Last updated:
  • 14 Jun 2019
Life on earth evolved with a predictable rhythm of light and dark. Today, artificial light is brightening our night sky and having measurable negative impacts on human health and animal populations. 

Light pollution poses a serious threat to sea turtles in particular. Under natural conditions turtle hatchlings emerge from nests at night and orient toward the sea relying on light cues that attract them toward the brighter horizon over the water. Sadly, artificial lighting is very distracting to hatchlings, causing them to move away from the sea and can lead to death from exhaustion, dehydration and predation. Hatchlings that do reach the ocean remain confused by artificial light sources and tend to linger in the near shore zone, potentially increasing their risk of predation and exhaustion. 

Female sea turtles are nocturnal nesters, leaving the ocean environment only a few times over their lifetime to incubate eggs on beach dunes. When exiting the water nesting females are timid and easily spooked by movement and light. Research shows that turtles prefer to nest on dark stretches of coast. 

Coastal lighting management actions are considered essential or high priority for the continued survival of endangered sea turtles. Council endeavours to manage our valuable turtle breeding sites according to the priorities of international convention and federal legislation. 

What can you do to reduce light pollution on nesting beaches? 

Residents of the Sunshine Coast are encouraged to cut the glow on turtle nesting beaches by: 

  • Turning off any unnecessary internal and external lights
  • Using motion sensors for external lighting and placing vertical shielding on lights to reduce skyglow
  • Positioning lights so that they face away from the beach
  • Planting vegetation buffers
  • Replacing incandescent, fluorescent, and high intensity lighting with low wattage low-pressure sodium vapour lighting 

Turtle breeding season occurs from October to April and whether you are a community resident, visitor or business you can make a difference at the flick of a switch.

Further reading

International Dark Sky Association