Saturday, October 23, 2021

Sea Turtle Lighting Violations at a Mid-Season High

The Marco Island Police Department sent out the following update on the mid-season high sea turtle lighting violations:

Did you know? In 2018, the Marco Island Police Department Code Enforcement Unit issued twenty notice of violations associated with violations of the lighting restrictions during sea turtle season.

At the beginning of the 2019 sea turtle season, the City of Marco Island notified those who live or work in the vicinity of the beach using the City‘s website, social media, flyers, mailers, as well as an electronic message board at the base of the Jolley Bridge. Sea turtle season was also discussed heavily in the media, and by allied environmental and conservation professionals.

In 2019, several false crawls associated with lighting issues have been documented.

During the 2019 sea turtle season, thirty-one notice of violations have been issued. Nine of these violations were issued for a second time in the past year, thus requiring an appearance before the Code Enforcement Magistrate. These locations include 140 Seaview Ct., 174 S. Collier Blvd., 260 Seaview Ct. (Tower #1), 300 S. Collier Blvd., 350 S. Collier Blvd., 730 S. Collier Blvd., 780 S. Collier Blvd., 890 S. Collier Blvd., and 930 Cape Marco Dr.

Those found in violation of the lighting restrictions associated with sea turtle season, can find themselves sanctioned for simultaneous violations of federal law (Endangered Species Act), state law (Florida Marine Turtle Protection Act), Collier County Ordinance (Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance), and the city of Marco Island Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance – including potential fines and/or imprisonment.

False crawls occur when the female sea turtle emerges from the water to nest, but encounters an obstruction (most likely man-made) such as a beach chair, or is disturbed by noise, people, flashlights or flash photography from a cell phone.

The most recent weekly sea turtle report recorded 185 false crawls for Marco Island.

According to scientists, hatchlings have an innate instinct that leads them in the direction of the brightest light, which is normally moonlight reflecting off of the ocean. Lighting from beachside condos has caused hatchlings to become disoriented and wander inland, where they were found on the dunes, pool decks and parking lots of some of Marco’s condos.

Marco’s Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance 01-35, states, “All exterior lights shall be turned off after 9:00 p.m., between May 1 and October 31st of each year, or fitted with a hood positioned so that the light sources or any reflective surfaces illuminated by such sources are not visible from the beach.

Please help protect these magnificent creatures and their habitat.

  • Avoid using flashlights, lanterns or flash photography while on the beach at night.
  • Turn off or shield outdoor lights, close drapes/blinds or turn off indoor lights to prevent lights from shining onto the beach. Lights disturb nesting turtles and hatchlings.
  • Fill in holes and knock down sand castles to make the beach safe for sea turtles.
  • Make sure to remove all items such as beach chairs, tents and trash from the beach at night.
  • Report lighting violations by calling the Marco Island Police Department’s non-emergency number: 239-389-5050.

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