Sea turtles at Cape Hatteras National Seashore are affected by light pollution. Every summer, threatened and endangered sea turtles come to the Outer Banks to make their nests in the sand, crawling up on the beach at night to lay their eggs. Dark night provides them protection from predators. When faced with a light polluted beach, sea turtles will sometimes return to the sea and not lay their eggs. From the nests that are laid, sea turtle hatchlings emerge at night to begin their journey down to the ocean's edge.
Natural darkness is key for their survival. Instead of being deterred by light, like their mothers, hatchlings will use light cues in order to find their way to the water safely. The young turtles instinctively crawl toward the brightest horizon. In areas of the park with natural darkness and no artificial light pollution, the waters of the Atlantic will reflect starlight and moonlight, making the water brighter than the land. When artificial lights make a horizon that is brighter than the water, hatchlings will crawl in the wrong direction and never reach the surf.
When visiting the park, you can help preserve the night sky. When staying in an oceanfront beach house, you can close blinds and turn off unnecessary outside lights. When taking a moonlit walk along the shore, use flashlights only when necessary. You can also decrease light pollution at home by installing outdoor lights that point light downward, not outward, and by using a less powerful lamp or bulb.
Beach fires permits are required for beach fires are also a source of artificial light. Make sure that you build your beach fire according to your permit to minimize your impact on turtle hatchlings. The loss of the night sky does not have to happen. Protecting dark skies doesn't mean throwing civilization back into the dark ages; it simply means that we need to make sure that artificial outdoor lights are used carefully, in ways that respect our human environment, wildlife, and the night sky that belongs to us all.
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Green sea turtle burying her nest National Park Service. The Mighty Sea Turtle Every year a cycle of life occurs on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore when female sea turtles return to the beaches where they were hatched to deposit eggs into a nest dug into the sand which will hatch to start the next generation of sea turtles. Nesting Habits The primary nester at the seashore is the loggerhead turtle along with a few green turtles and an occasional leatherback or Kemp's Ridley sea turtle.
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Why Protect Sea Turtles? Baby sea turtle crawls to the ocean after being released National Park Service. How Unattended Beach Equipment Impacts Sea Turtles and What You Can Do to Help During sea turtle nesting season May-October , items left on the beach can cause disturbance that may deter a nesting female from laying her eggs or may cause entanglement which compromises the health of the turtle. Specific items of concern include chairs any , canopies, volleyball nets and fishing equipment.
Any obstacles that sea turtles face on the beach have the potential to alter their perception of the nesting habitat and they may decide to nest elsewhere or the nest may be laid too close to the water's edge. Be sure to put-out any beach fires with sufficient water; fires left burning and unattended may cause harm to the nesting females. How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy's summer heat.
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You can sign up for a walk wait for hours and see nothing but moonlight and waves.
Those who are fortunate witness turtle nesting. You can get close to a threatened or endangered species of Florida sea turtles any day of the year with a tour of The Turtle Hospital in Marathon , a non-profit rehabilitation center in the Florida Keys that rehabilitates sick and injured turtles and provides tours that allow people to see sea turtles up close.
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During that time most programs send out scouts to find nesting Florida sea turtles for the group to observe. You must be able to walk a mile or two on sand.