Seminar promotes safe lighting for baby turtles

| 20/03/2019
CNS Local Life
(Back row, L-R) Community police officers PC Devine and APS Kern, with (front row, L-R) Wendy Williams, Dr Janice Blumenthal, Jerrica Wood, and Lauren Dombowski of DoE (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

(CNS Local Life): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and Department of Environment (DoE) jointly hosted a seminar on turtle-friendly lighting for Seven Mile Beach business owners and property managers on Monday, 18 March. The idea is to set up lighting on beachfront properties that will not cause confusion to hatchlings during nesting season as they try to make their way to the sea.

Bright lights along the beach can cause hatchlings to wander inland by mistake. 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, said a press release.

DoE staff presented the seminar, speaking 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.

The presenters discussed the benefits of, and ways to implement, turtle-friendly lighting, along with the progress that has so far been made on island.

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 possible concerns of property managers.

CNS Local Life
Demonstrating turtle-friendly lighting (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“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. This type of lighting is also often more energy efficient than standard lighting, the release said.

Most importantly, said the presenters, implementing turtle-friendly lighting on a wide scale will reduce disorientations in turtles, improve turtle nesting and safety, and increase the turtle population in Cayman.

“The Department of Environment is grateful to the RCIPS for arranging today’s event,” said Wendy Williams, manager of the DoE’s Environmental Management Unit. “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.”

APS Kern added 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 said.

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Category: Civil Service, Environment, Marine Environment, Police

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