Dozens of baby turtles lost due to bad lighting

| 10/08/2022 | 55 Comments
Unfriendly lighting on Seven Mile Beach causes the death of turtle hatchlings (photo from DoE social media)

(CNS): Around two dozen turtle hatchlings died last week because the nest from which they hatched was close to condos along Seven Mile Beach that did not have turtle-friendly lighting. As a result, the Department of Environment is once again urging people who own beachfront property near critical nesting habitat to contact them for help installing lights that will not misorient the endangered baby sea turtles. Only around 1 in 1,000 survive to adulthood and the species need all the support they can get.

The DoE said that on 3 August the department’s Turtle Hotline received a report of a lone sea turtle hatchling on the beach. The turtle team checked the location and realised it was from an unknown nest. Ocean Sciences student and DoE Intern Danielle Seales investigated and discovered that many hatchlings from the nest had been attracted to artificial lights from condos further down the beach and had not made it to the water. Tracks on the sand indicated more than 25 hatchlings had misoriented and only a few were recovered.

The DoE Turtle Team monitors every sea turtle nest across the island to ensure the hatchlings make it safely to the sea. But sometimes nests are unidentified because the mother’s tracks are either washed away by high tides or raked over by people cleaning the beach. The DoE said that, unfortunately, this means the team cannot ensure the safety of the hatchlings.

Turtle hatchlings are attracted to and distracted by white lights, and they can become exhausted and die when they do not find the ocean. Every year, the DoE retrieves hatchlings from swimming pools, drains, car parks, roads, hedges and ironshore due to artificial lighting.

Amber-coloured turtle-friendly lights which are still bright enough for people to see use very little energy and can save the lives of many baby turtles.

To find out more about turtle-friendly lights and possible funding for a retrofit email emu.doe@gov.ky

See here for more information.


Share your vote!


How do you feel after reading this?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: ,

Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (55)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Its been 5 days since tbis was reported. Has anyone seen a plan of action?

    • Anon says:

      Good question. CNS will need to ask the Relevant Minister. I suspect the answer from PACT will be that they are looking into it, and to check them back at election time for empty promises on what can be done if re-elected.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s incredibly difficult to find turtle friendly lighting. The government or the DOE should provide an outlet for people to purchase these lights.

  3. Anon says:

    If oceanfront property owners will not voluntarily use appropriate lighting to avoid the innocent animals losing their lives, then a law making the appropriate lighting mandatory should be enacted. The Law can provide that if there is a breach, a fine of up to $100,000 can be imposed against the owner(s) of the property.

    If each strata owner has to pay their share of a $100,000 fine for inappropriate lighting, then I believe they will each vote for proper lighting thereafter.

    11
    1
    • Anonymous says:

      Not just the lighting. Take a walk and take photos from West Bay to East End and up to Rum Point and check out the wealthy beachfront properties who dont give a damn about proper lights ot proper clean areas on the sands for the turtles.

      They have no amber lights and leave their beachfronts permanently decorated with all sorts of chairs, firepits, tables, etc.

      5
      2
  4. Anonymous says:

    Can someone please explain to me the moral supremacy of turtles, which it seems we all want to save, and (say) rats, which we all want to kill. Surely they have equal rights to life and protection?

    Or is it just that ickle turtles are so cute? If so, I’m not joining in this hysterical blub-fest.

    1
    23
    • Anonymous says:

      Turtles = Endangered species (that we helped endanger locally), cultural identity (from coat of arms to CUC :-), etc.

      Rats = plague carrying vermin (cultural identity) that are technically an introduced invasive species here.

      Its a social responsible not cuteness argument.

      17
    • Jo2950 says:

      Rats are not currently endangered species. I personally don’t kill anything – cockroaches, ants, etc. But a lot of people see rats as a pest due to the diseases they carry (viles for instance), and the fact they breed prolifically. Any death of anything is a shame and the fact you take the stance of one animal over another shows you are not an animal lover. Do you support big game hunting for example?

      1
      2
    • Anon says:

      Turtles = endangered & local (as in, soon gone from the Cayman Islands unless we stop killing them)
      Rats = not endangered & imported (plenty both here and abroad)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Being on the ExCo of a SMB strata, we reached out to the DOE in 2014 when changing lighting. Multiple emails to get a response. Then finally a response that said we will give you some specifications of what to get for Turtle friendly lighting. And then never heard from them again.

    Frustrating.

    10
    3
  6. Anon says:

    Here’s a dumb question: how come the Governor’s House doesn’t have turtle friendly lighting yet? It seems one of the few buildings on SMB that you can literally see from miles away.
    I’m sure between the RCIPS, the DOE and maybe some private security firm there is enough know-how to find a way to protect the governor that doesn’t involve spotlights shining on a turtle beach.

    27
    9
    • Merith says:

      Poor Anon forgot to fact check his Post. The Governors resident has had turtle friendly lighting for many years now.

      21
      2
      • Anonymous says:

        So it WAS a dumb question! Clever Anon 3.03pm!

        3
        1
      • Anon says:

        Hello Merith,
        Maybe the governor has turtle friendly lighting, but he also has at least six bright flood lights illuminating “his” part of the beach. Just go walk anywhere near Governor’s Beach after sunset and you’ll be hard pressed to call that “turtle friendly”.

        8
        1
        • He with the Gold Makes the Rules says:

          Its sad to see How a condo complex can get away with killing dozens of hatchling turtles due to neglegent lighting and there is no fine or jail time, yet if a hungry Caymanian practices turtling in a traditional way and captures 1 turtle, they can face time in jail!? Same is true when sea front property owners destroy mangrove buffer which is the habitat for thousands of fish. Yet a local caught fishing in the same location even if they have caught no fish, can be detained, their boat or other items confiscated and if they catch fish they can be fined and imprisoned. If we are truly about conservation and not incarceration of Caymanians i encourage the legislators to review and change these asymmetric practices.as it stands today it seems the wealthy seafront property owners are doing much more damage to our marine environment than the fisherman.

      • Anon says:

        When was the last time you were near Governor’s Beach when the sun was down? You’d be hard pressed to call the six bright spot lights turtle friendly….

  7. Anonymous says:

    This also highlights the inadequate punishment for poaching adult turtles. If only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings make it to adulthood then we should be demanding serious punishment for poaching violations.

    Can we equate each poaching incident to 1,000 hatchlings not making it safely to the ocean? Here we are, rightly upset when we find out 24 hatchlings died and then feeling sorry for a poacher’s excuse that he was only trying to feed his family.

    25
    2
    • Anonymous says:

      I have NO sympathy for anyone who claims they needed to harvest Turtle, conch, grouper, etc while out of season or our of legal limits. If you are that desperate – GET A JOB!!!

      27
      1
  8. Anonymous says:

    Most hatchlings die. I don’t think we need to go to extraordinary measures for one short part of their journey. It is not like if they get to the ocean they are going to become adults. 1 in a 1,000 will.

    “What is a hatchling’s chance of survival?

    Only about one in 1,000 turtles survive to adulthood.”

    https://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/sea-turtles/florida/faq/#:~:text=Once%20grown%2C%20the%20turtles%20will,to%20the%20ocean%20fast%20enough.

    6
    31
    • Anonymous says:

      So says a Cayman Marine Einstein! You are part of the huge problem (lack of education and insight to the core issues).

      17
      5
    • Anonymous says:

      That was without lights and human intervention, Einstein. Taking your course of action we can now presume the rate to be closer to 1 in 1500. Congrats on really not getting it.

      15
      2
    • Jo2950 says:

      So let’s not bother about any other endangered species being shot for example, as it’s just life, hu? Don’t ban trophy hunting over one little issue of endangerment…..

      • Anonymous says:

        Trophy hunting should be banned globally and all violators tossed into a pit with no weapons against the predators they seek.

  9. Anonymous says:

    DOE “Turtle Friendly Lighting” page (with Technical Advice dated September 2018), says:

    “Other than when required through conditions attached to planning permission for new construction on nesting beaches, turtle friendly lighting is not currently required by law in the Cayman Islands.”

    “A revised Plan which incorporates public feedback will now be submitted to Cabinet by the National Conservation Council, at which time turtle friendly lighting may become a legal requirement. For new development it will be with immediate effect and for existing it will be implemented within 3 years, in critical habitat.”

    What is the status of that Plan from 2018?

    31
    1
  10. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone answer why Turtle-friendly lighting, immediately adjacent to a large well-known breading beach, during breeding season, for an endangered species, isn’t yet a legal requirement in the Cayman Islands? Anyone? Anyone? How can we spend >KYD$10,000,000 a year on a slaughterhouse, while boasting internationally that we are turtle experts and learned published conservation scientists, and still foul this basic stuff up? If these property owners feel that our turtle stock don’t matter, then they picked the wrong jurisdiction for a vacation property. Pick another island guys. DoE need to find their voice and advocate much more aggressively for legislative protections.

    46
    8
    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately you’ve answered you own question. We are not experts. We are not conserving. The premier makes empty promises. The doe has no power and also unfortunately no true understanding of what it’s doing. I love this country dearly but let’s not pretend for one second that it has a record of environmental protection.
      We hunted turtles virtually to extinction and brought them back (barely) with the boondoggle that is the turtle center.
      The blue iguana was on the verge of extinction and has barely been brought back.
      The parrot is endangered.
      The Cayman was hunted to extinction locally.
      Conch and lobster used to be everywhere and no are rare and still regularly poached.
      Time to call it like it is and admit we are just bad at this and not making it any better

      21
      2
      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t go looking for Caribbean Monk Seals or the “Caymanas” Crocodiles so numerous they resembled logs – from which we are named.

        6
        1
    • Anonymous says:

      STOP blaming only property owners – YES, they could/should do much to correct this needed shift. BUT, look in your Caymanian Mirror and see the image – Caymanians who will not pass laws, Caymanians who will not enforce laws, Caymanians who will not protect their heritage, Caymanians who continually elect corrupt ministers. Want change? Stop typing and get out and get the stench out of the CIG!!! Or are you too comfortable on your couch typing while collecting a CIG salary?

      22
      7
      • Anonymous says:

        No, the indictment of condo owners, who hold votes on their stratas/home owners associations, are exactly to blame. Any beachfront structure old or new, that hasn’t yet voluntarily considered or taken action on lighting at their last 10 AGMs, has had their fingers in their ears and deserves to be shamed in 2022. Environmental decency shouldn’t require any laws or enforcement.

        14
        2
        • Anonymous says:

          Most of the absentee owners don’t have any idea that they should have turtle friendly lighting. Once explained, I’m sure all would be on board with it. More education and legislation is needed in this area.

      • Jo2950 says:

        Personally I would argue the majority of those initiating laws and advising those in power which should and should not be expedited are……..expats……

        1
        4
  11. Anonymous says:

    Name all of the condo complexes that do not have turtle friendly lighting. Let that information be public so they have to answer for their choices

    53
    4
    • Anonymous says:

      How the f&@$ is this still an option??? These millionaires (as well as your average joe) can easily afford proper lighting that doesn’t kill our marine life. It’s well past time for some legislation, as “suggestions” fall flat on their faces on this rock.

      43
      3
    • Anonymous says:

      We can’t dismiss that there is more crime on SMB, including a recent crown witness assassination on the beach. Lazy security and turtle-friendly lighting need to somehow co-exist. The solutions are perimeter night vision motion-activated CCTV, and more path lighting fixtures, fitted with amber bulbs – at least during nesting/hatching season. It’s a few hundred bucks cost spread over an entire Strata, amortising over 5-10 years.

      29
      3
  12. Anonymous says:

    Why doesn’t the Conservation Officer jointly responsible for SMB area spend more time actually on SMB and talk to properties concerned. That is time better spent than private work up on North Side.
    This is a subject matter that is constantly referenced on CNS but is never investigated by the authorities. Consequently, it is resulting in serious environmental damage due to extremely poor management.

    32
    5
    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. How many doors are there to knock on, really. 20? 25? Do one a day for a month.

      23
      2
    • Anonymous says:

      Often see our SMB Officer in ALTs, govt vehicle in the parking lot. Hey, Officer ******* in the black truck, try putting a full days work in for your publicly funded job. Why isn’t this being stopped? Our environment is being destroyed whilst Officer ‘Nero’ constantly fiddles.
      Turtles are the sexy subject matter which tugs the heart strings, and rightly so, but our marine parks are being obliterated by poaching whilst the DOE fail to ensure that the guardians of our natural environment are actually doing their job.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Emergency law. Assemble a task force of multiple agencies and blitz the shores now. If the lights dont comply, knock on doors and give 24 hours notice.

    Come back in 24 hours and take the bulbs and the furniture, firepits and anything else that negligent people leave in the turtle paths.

    Do It Now

    38
    5
  14. Anonymous says:

    Starting fining?

    18
    1
  15. Elvis says:

    Please let them know if you find a nest so they can put turtle lighting up so the little creatures can find their way i to the ocean and grow and be caught years later and murdered for their meat and pretty shells for dem wall dem

    5
    24
  16. Anonymous says:

    When worlds collide & conflict. Island territory that has the turtle as its main mascot & emblazoned on the tail of aircraft and coat-of-arms , yet turtles are allowed to die by poor lighting on the very beaches where they nest , allowed to be poached & served for dinner in households as a ‘Cultural Entitlement’.

    23
    3
  17. Anonymous says:

    How long has the Doe been “urging” beachfront owners/residences about this?

    I bet by now it’s not a requirement of the Planning Law. Clearly it should be if there is genuine senior Govt support for turtle habitats..retroactive where critical.

    48
  18. Anonymous says:

    People! What is WRONG with you?? Put the 🤬amber light NOW!

    40
  19. Anonymous says:

    It’s time for the Planning Department to enforce the law for environment turtle friendly lightning.

    I’m pretty sure that it won’t happen though.

    Animals suffer at the hand of man.

    48
    3
    • Anonymous says:

      First you need a law. There is no law requiring turtle friendly lighting.

      21
      3
      • Anonymous says:

        Fine. Be a good citizen or bugger off.

        Any condo complex without turtle friendly lighting would seem to be an excellent venue for a weekend (prescription act compliant) beach party.

        21
        3
        • Anonymous says:

          Sounds good. Only not during hatchling season. Bring those Rum Point party boats and crank the tunes up!

      • Anonymous says:

        Turtle-friendly lighting? DOE keeps trying to justify its existence. Does anyone sell Turtle friendly lamps and candles? because we are spending our way back there.

        10
        15
      • Anonymous says:

        your moral compass should tell you to do what is right

        20
      • Jo2950 says:

        Could be written into Regulations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.