New Village of Tequesta Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance
Sea turtles are a keystone species, vital for the health of the oceans, and help stabilize the dunes and control erosion. Sea turtle nesting season runs from March 1st through October 31st and with all five species of sea turtles found in Florida listed as endangered or threatened, the Village of Tequesta has worked to update its sea turtle ordinance, based on the state of Florida’s Model Lighting Ordinance, to ensure sea turtles remain protected. The Village of Tequesta’s new sea turtle protection ordinance became effective on August 11, 2023 and applies to all residents within the R-3 zoning district. You can view the Village’s new sea turtle protection ordinance in our Code of Ordinances and view our frequently asked questions.
When assessing your lighting, it is important to note that the best artificial light for sea turtles and other wildlife is no light at all. However, to manage the impacts of artificial light on wildlife, start by removing unnecessary and purely decorative lights. For areas of the property that need to be illuminated due to building and safety codes, use sea turtle friendly lighting (wildlife friendly or wildlife sensitive lighting). Overall, it is important to remember the three rules: keep it low, shielded and long. Low refers to the height of the light. Shielded refers to blocking the light to prevent it from being visible from the beach. Long refers to the wavelength of the light being no less than 560 nm. While sea turtles are progressively more vulnerable to extinction, sea turtles and people can coexist if we act to preserve and share our common habitat.
What can I do to help save sea turtles and their critical nesting environment?
- Limit night activities on the beach during nesting season. Your presence may discourage females from approaching the beach.
- Help keep the beach dark: Lights confuse nesting females and hatchlings causing them to disorient away from the ocean resulting in them being prone to capture by predators, fatal dehydration, or misdirection into nearby parking lots and roadways. Do not use flashlights, flash photography, or fishing lamps on the beach at night.
- Do not approach, disturb, or touch nesting females or hatchlings. If you witness a sea turtle emerging from the surf or digging a nest, remain quiet and at a distance. Movements, noises, and lights can easily frighten away a female turtle, possibly causing the nesting attempt to be aborted. Never stop a sea turtle that is returning to the water.
- Do not interfere with hatchlings heading for the water, as this is illegal, and can weaken them and increase mortality.
- Take back what you bring: lounge chairs, umbrellas, coolers, litter, etc. Beach furniture, litter, debris, and fishing line are barriers to already exhausted females and can prove to be deadly if they become entangled in them. In the ocean, litter, such as plastic bags and balloons, can be mistaken for food and harmful to sea turtles.
- FWC Certified Lighting
- How to Find Wildlife Friendly Lighting
- STC Wildlife Friendly Lighting FAQs
- FWC Marine Turtle Protection Laws and Regulations