Posted by Bailey Kaufman | 01.26.2024 | Conservation, Marine Science, Sea Turtle Camp, Sea Turtle Camp News, Turtle Talk

Protecting Sea Turtles from the Hazards of Light Pollution

Sea turtles face various challenges in their natural habitats, and one major threat they encounter is light pollution. Let’s explore how artificial lights can have negative effects on nesting and hatching sea turtles.

The Nesting Process:

Sea turtles embark on an amazing journey to lay their eggs on sandy beaches. They rely on the natural darkness of the environment to guide them. Female turtles are drawn to the dark silhouette of the dunes against the night sky when searching for a suitable nesting spot. Artificial lights along the beach can disrupt this process, causing confusion and disorientation for the turtles.

Negative Impact on Nesting:

  1. Disorientation: Bright lights from coastal developments, streetlights, and beachfront properties can disorient nesting females. Instead of reaching the safety of the dunes, they may become disoriented and wander towards the artificial lights, putting themselves at risk of predation, exhaustion, or even road accidents.
  2. Nest Abandonment: Female sea turtles are highly sensitive to disturbances during the nesting process. The presence of artificial lights can lead them to abandon their nesting attempts altogether, resulting in fewer nests laid, and consequently, a decline in sea turtle populations.

The Hatching Journey:

Once the eggs are laid and buried, the baby sea turtles face their own set of challenges during hatching and making their way to the ocean.

Negative Impact on Hatching:

  1. Misdirection: Hatchlings are naturally guided by the reflection of the moon and stars on the ocean’s surface. Artificial lights can cause them to become disoriented, mistaking the glow of streetlights or buildings for the moonlit ocean. This often leads them away from the water, making them vulnerable to predators and dehydration.
  2. Vulnerability: The journey from the nest to the ocean is already perilous for hatchlings, and light pollution adds an extra layer of danger. Predators like birds and crabs take advantage of the confusion caused by artificial lights, preying on disoriented hatchlings.


As environmentally conscious individuals, it’s crucial for us to recognize the impact of light pollution on the incredible journey of sea turtles. By making simple changes, such as using turtle-friendly lighting (red lights) and reducing unnecessary outdoor lighting, we can contribute to the conservation of these special creatures. Let’s work together to ensure that the next generation of sea turtles can continue to thrive in their natural habitats, free from the negative effects of light pollution!