Light Pollution Along Coastal Areas Prevents Sea Turtles From Nesting

Written by Michael Graham Richard

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.

“Our findings are one of the first to show that night lights estimated with satellite-based imagery can be used to explain sea turtle nesting activity over a large-scale area,” [Tessa Mazor, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Queensland] said.

The results could be applied to other Mediterranean locations due to the high intensity of coastal activities, she added, but also have applicability worldwide.”Most sea turtle species are nocturnal nesters and thus affected by artificial night-light activity, so these results would apply in areas where nesting beaches are close by to cities and human activities,” she said.

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.

This post was originally published at TreeHugger.


Photo from Thinkstock

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


David V.
David V.2 years ago

Humans are greedy self-centered beings who care for nothing but themselves. It is just a matter of time until humans wipe all living things off this planet including themselves.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you TreeHugger, for Sharing this!

Kate H.
K H.2 years ago

This new info doesn't surprise me, since baby sea turtles already have the problems with it. Here in Florida there are places on the beach where they try to protect sea turtle nests by marking them with little flags and stuff, but that still doesn't help them with light pollution.

Ernie Miller
william Miller2 years ago

I hate light pollution even here in KS I cant see anywhere near the stars I did as a child

Jo Mullen
Jo Mullen2 years ago


Berty Jardine
Berty Jardine2 years ago

Humans truly suck

Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O.2 years ago

That's really upsetting. The turtles need to be saved.

Marija M.
Maria Mohoric2 years ago

thank you for sharing