Mitigating Anthropogenic Lighting on Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches in Anguilla: Recommendations for a Lighting Ordinance in a Tourism-Based Economy
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Anguilla is a small island in the Caribbean with recovering nesting populations of hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtles. While there is currently a moratorium on sea turtle harvesting until 2020, the Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources is concerned about anthropogenic impacts on nesting habitat. These impacts relate to tourism pressures and include artificial beachfront lighting, largely unconstrained coastal development, and illegal sand mining for construction aggregate. Artificial lighting on beaches can deter gravid females from approaching nesting sites, disrupt and shorten nesting efforts, and inhibit sea-finding mechanisms in both turtles and hatchlings. The majority of light pollution in Anguilla emanates from beachfront tourism-related properties, the most rapidly expanding economic sector on the island. In addition to stakeholder interviews, field work included formal lighting assessments on three hotel properties located on nesting beaches and informal assessments of lighting and other anthropogenic effects on other potential nesting habitat on the island. The project provides recommendations for elements of a Lighting Ordinance, as well as tourism-oriented materials designed to help reduce the impact of the tourism industry on sea turtle nesting habitat in Anguilla.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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