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Sea Turtle Lighting

Artificial lighting is currently one of the largest threats to sea turtle populations worldwide. 

Nesting females look for dark beaches to lay their eggs. Bright lights may confuse or frighten them, causing them to abandon the beach in favor of a more suitable spot. Hatchling turtles use natural light to navigate toward the ocean after leaving the nest. Mistaking artificial lights for the moon or sun, hatchlings quickly become disoriented, wandering into backyards, swimming pools, storm drains and busy roads. Hatchlings who don’t reach the safety of the ocean quickly fall victim to dehydration, predation and death.

As Florida's coastal communities grow and expand, we will need to find way to reduce our impact on local beaches. Together we can help ensure sea turtles survive for generations to come. 

Barrier Island Lighting Ordinance

As of As of January 1, 2018, all artificial lighting on Pensacola Beach (pre-existing and new construction) must adhere to the lighting ordinance and/or be converted to sea turtle friendly lighting. Under the ordinance, exterior lights visible from the beach must:

Keep it Low: Fixtures and light sources should be mounted as low as safely possible and utilize the lowest wattage/lumens for the intended purpose.

Keep It Long: Bulbs and fixtures should produce long wavelength light (<560nm) without the use of filters or lenses. Long wavelength bulbs appear red or amber in color. Yellow bug bulbs may be marketed as wildlife friendly, but generally are not the right wavelength.

Keep It Shielded: Light sources should be enclosed in a full-cut off fixture. Appropriate fixtures should shield the light from being visible from the beach and reduce cumulative glow as much as possible.

For more provisions and exceptions, read the full ordinance here.

A number of local and chain retailers carry appropriate fixtures. They may be marketed as Wildlife-Friendly, Sea Turtle-Friendly or Dark Sky. For a list of certified and approved fixtures, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website here. 


How can you make your home turtle friendly?

Perform a lighting inspection for beach property, including properties set back from the beach. Turn on all indoor and outdoor lights. Examine your property from multiple angles on the beach and take note of all lights directly visible and any “glow” produced from light reflecting off surfaces. One or more of the following adjustments may be necessary to reduce light pollution from your property:

  • Re-position fixtures so that the bulb is no longer visible from the beach.

  • Shield the top and sides of exterior fixtures so that the light is directed downward onto your property and away from the beach.

  • Replace incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity lighting with amber or red LED’s or low-pressure sodium fixtures.

  • Plant or improve native vegetation buffers between the light and the open beach.

  • Tint beach facing windows and cover windows visible to the beach after the sun sets with opaque curtains or blinds.

Image of the Barrier Island Lighting Ordinance FAQ

If you have questions about turtle-friendly lighting or the ordinance please contact us at
850-595-3460 or smbolduc@myescambia.com.

Pre-Retrofit Lighting
Bright exterior lights and beach-facing windows can light up the beach at night—disorienting hatchling turtles and preventing mothers from nesting.
Post-Retrofit Lighting
Amber bulbs and cut-off fixtures eliminate unnecessary light, keeping our beaches darker and turtles safer.
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