PHILIPSBURG–Several dozens of the newly hatched and critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles were found by Nature Foundation on Great Bay Beach disoriented after emerging from their nest on Friday. Their journey to the ocean was interrupted by the many lights from businesses lining Boardwalk Boulevard.
Nature Foundation was alerted to the hatching of the critically endangered creatures from a nest in the vicinity of Hard Rock Café on Great Bay Beach. On the scene, foundation personnel found some hatchlings were close to a restaurant heading to Front Street.
With the help of many people in the area, including youngsters in full Halloween costumes, all hatchlings were taken to the ocean.
“Sea Turtles are very sensitive to light and use the reflection of the stars and the moon on the water to navigate to the sea. With so much artificial light on Great Bay Beach, the turtles became disoriented and went the wrong way,” said Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.
Usually, disorientation due to artificial light is not so much of an issue, because most turtles nest on Guana Bay. However, the Sargasso seaweed appeared to have led female turtles to opt for Great Bay Beach instead.
“We need to urgently sit down with stakeholders to discuss how we can mitigate the effects of artificial lights during the Sea Turtle Nesting Season,” said Bervoets,
Source: The Daily Herald Artificial light on beach disoriented hatchlings