Each year there are nesting sea turtles that do not come to our beaches because of bright lights, or hatchlings that are distracted by lights and crawl inland to death rather than toward the Gulf waters. In July, the County adopted a Sea Turtle Lighting Ordinance for Pensacola Beach. The Ordinance defines what kinds of lights are permitted if they are within eyesight of the Beach. Generally, lights must have cutoffs so there is no light shining onto the beach, or need to be of a low-spectrum color, like high-pressure sodium lights or bug lights, which do not attract the sea turtles. Also, white metal halide lights are prohibited throughout the island.
The rules are effective immediately for new construction, and existing residences and businesses have 5 years to come into compliance. At PBA’s urging, the SRIA and Grover Robinson will be seeking BP RESTORE funding to help residences and businesses with the cost of compliance.
PBA worked closely with the County environmental staff and the local Beach businesses to craft the Sea Turtle Lighting Ordinance. Over the next 5 years are Beach will gradually become more turtle-friendly!