Ar­ti­fi­cial light dis­rupts tur­tle hatch­lings

Pilbara News - - News - ■ Ali­cia Perera

Ar­ti­fi­cial light from in­dus­trial build­ings close to beaches has a dis­rup­tive ef­fect on hatch­ling tur­tles, a re­cent study has found.

The re­port, pub­lished on­line in the Jour­nal for Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion, looked at the ef­fects of dif­fer­ent types of ar­ti­fi­cial light on flat­back and green tur­tles.

Its main find­ing was that hatch­lings are best pro­tected when ur­ban and in­dus­trial lights are 1.5km back from beaches and shielded.

Study re­searcher and Pen­do­ley En­vi­ron­men­tal di­rec­tor Kel­lie Pen­do­ley, who has worked in en­vi­ron­men­tal po­si­tions up north, said ar­ti­fi­cial light had long been a prob­lem for tur­tles in the Pil­bara, but lit­tle re­search had been done be­cause light was dif­fi­cult to study.

“The lights around Dampier Ar­chi­pel­ago, that wor­ries me,” she said.

“Lights from in­dus­try and ships are prob­a­bly hav­ing a large im­pact on the hatch­lings be­cause they use light as a cue when they emerge from the sand into the ocean.”

Dr Pen­do­ley said re­sults from the study sug­gested ways to re­duce ur­ban light on beaches that could be a so­lu­tion for the tur­tles and in­dus­try alike.

“What we can do is we can man­age those lights,” she said.

“We can rec­om­mend high­pres­sure sodium lights. We rec­om­mend re­duc­ing the in­ten­sity and num­ber of lights as much as pos­si­ble and pre­vent light di­rect­ing into the sky.

“It’s get­ting in­dus­try to think about cre­ative things like that to stop the light es­cap­ing into the sky.”

Pic­ture: Kel­lie Pen­do­ley

A re­cent re­port says flat­back tur­tle hatch­lings are af­fected by ar­ti­fi­cial light.

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