Yesterday, 18 March, the RCIPS and Department of Environment partnered to host a seminar on Turtle-Friendly Lighting for business owners and property managers in the Seven Mile Beach area.
Turtle-friendly lighting refers to lighting on beachfront properties that is set up in such a way as to not confuse turtles during nesting season, when bright lights along the beach can cause hatchlings to wander inland instead of out to sea. Making lighting turtle-friendly involves a variety of considerations such as the placement of lights, the type of bulbs used, the type of fixtures used, and the timing of which lights are turned on when.
The seminar was presented by staff from the Department of Environment, who spoke about the various threats that turtles face during nesting season.
“Through 20 years of DoE sea turtle population monitoring, we have identified artificial lights on nesting beaches as the greatest threat to the future of our nesting population,” said Dr. Janice Blumenthal, a research officer in the DoE’s Marine Resources Unit.
Over the course of the seminar, the presenters discussed the benefits of turtle-friendly lighting, ways to implement turtle-friendly lighting, and the progress that has been made on island so far.
Acting Sergeant Jonathan Kern of the RCIPS, who is the community officer for Beat 9 - Seven Mile Beach South, followed up with a presentation addressing concerns property managers may have.
“Property managers who I’ve spoken to are always open to implementing turtle friendly lighting, but their main concern is whether doing so will affect the security of their properties,” said APS Kern. “Part of the aim of the seminar was to assure them that having turtle-friendly lighting does not have to come at the expense of security. In fact, one of the things we discussed today was how this type of lighting can often be better for security than the overly bright and uncontrolled lighting some properties use.”
One example that was given was how turtle-friendly lighting can reduce glare, which actually makes it easier to see everything that is happening on a property. Turtle-friendly lighting is also often more energy efficient than standard lighting.
Most importantly, say the presenters, implementing turtle-friendly lighting on a wide scale will reduce disorientations in turtles, improve turtle nesting, safety, and increase the turtle population in Cayman.
“The Department of Environment is grateful to the RCIPS for arranging today’s event. We are excited about working with RCIPS and local beachfront properties to implement turtle-friendly lighting and ensure that properties are safely and securely illuminated, whilst minimising impacts of artificial lighting on our sea turtle nesting populations,” said Wendy Williams, manager of the DoE’s Environmental Management Unit.
Sergeant Kern says it is a long term project, but a worthwhile one. “It is my hope that the community will understand this and come together to achieve something that protects the turtles and benefits the entire community with a lasting and positive change,” he added.