Most species of sea turtles are endangered, so it’s very important for us to, first, stop doing the harmful things we do (ie. catching them in fishing nets, destroying their nesting spots, polluting the sea, overfishing, etc), and also figure out helpful things to do to help them bounce back. New research published in the journal Biological Conservation shows the impact of light pollution on sea turtle nesting habits might just help with both those things. We already knew that lighting beaches at night could disrupt hatchlings’ by screwing with their ability to find the water and by making them more visible to predators, but it turns out that light pollution in coastal areas is also a problem for mature sea turtles.
Indeed, by comparing maps showing areas in Israel where sea turtles nest and image of the same area taken from orbit, researchers found that turtles preferred nesting in dark stretches of coast.
This type of information can be extremely useful to conservation efforts. For example, it’s great to create a protected corridor for sea turtles, but we should also make sure that the area isn’t full of light pollution that will discourage turtles from nesting there.