Scoping Out Tybee’s Night Shoreline on Behalf of Tybee’s Turtles…

September 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Marine Science Center

Tybee Island, GA – In 2009 there were 1,005 sea turtle nests on Georgia’s coastal barrier islands, but only three of those nests were on Tybee Island. Tybee has just over five miles of nestable beach and Wassaw Island, which is not developed and has 6.5 miles of nestable beach, reported 91 nests last year. These numbers have been relatively consistent over the years.


Marine Science Center Update – August 2010

Though there certainly are other factors, we know that artificial light from the island’s beachfront properties influences the island’s nesting activity.

Artificial light impacts both nesting turtles early in the season and their hatchlings later in the season. Light shining on or seen from the beach discourages females from nesting and she will resort to less-than-optimal nesting spots or deposit her eggs in the ocean.

Hatchlings instinctively move toward the illumination of the horizon and into the ocean. Artificial lighting causes hatchlings to become mis-oriented and wander inland, where they die of dehydration or predation.

Throughout the 2010 nesting season, we conducted beachfront lighting surveys and recorded an average of 600 lights that either directly illuminated the beach or the light’s source could be seen from the beach.

We ask the public to turn off their lights through the distribution of printed pieces, information distributed in resident’s water bills, materials produced specifically for hotel and vacation rentals, and a new exhibit in our Coastal Gallery that addresses artificial light.

To expand our awareness efforts, this year we requested a flight mission with SouthWings so we could shoot video for a public service announcement (PSA) the science center is planning to produce next year. The PSA will run on Tybee’s cable channel 7.

The flight, a joint effort with the City of Tybee Island, also enabled us to survey from a big picture perspective and provided an overview of the island’s “hot spots” which substantiated data from our ground surveys.

For more information about the work of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and the Tybee Sea Turtles Project be sure to visit: http://tybeemarinescience.org/sea-turtle-project.

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