Endangered Baby Sea Turtles Die Because Fort Lauderdale Fails to Enforce Lighting Ordinance

N. Ft. Lauderdale Sea Turtle Lighitng IssuesClose to 90% of sea turtle nesting in the US occurs in Florida. The City of Fort Lauderdale advertises sea turtle nesting season (March-October) on its website.  Yet, Fort Lauderdale is also a city that prides itself as an international tourist destination.

Humans can create many perils for sea turtles during nesting season. These include plastic and other litter left on the beach that can entangle or block the sea turtle’s way and beach furniture that can entrap turtles. But, by far the worst hazard is beach lighting. This not only disorients sea turtle mothers laying their eggs, but creates a greater hazard for hatchlings confused by the light. Sea turtle hatchlings instinctively head in the direction of the brightest light. On a beach without humans, this would be toward the ocean.

In fact beach lighting puts baby sea turtles in such jeopardy of survival that Fort Lauderdale has a lighting ordinance on the books. Ft. Lauderdale Lighting Ordinance Sec. 6-51 states, “It is the policy of the City of Fort Lauderdale that no artificial light shall illuminate any area of the incorporated beaches of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.”…

Alas, laws only work as well as they are enforced and on Fort Lauderdale’s illuminated A1A, there isn’t a lot of enforcement going on. The result is as expected, new hatchlings, often 100% disoriented, head directly for the busy A1A strip. There they face dehydration, the risk of falling in a storm drain, and the worst scenario, being run over by cars cruising up and down the strip.

Thanks to STOP (Sea Turtle Oversight Protection), a group of tireless volunteers, thousands of baby sea turtles have been saved from certain death. But the volunteers can’t catch every disoriented hatchling every night, so many of them end their brief lives, under the wheels of a car on A1A. Much of this could be prevented if the city of Fort Lauderdale would enforce its own ordinance and protect these endangered sea turtles.

Mayor Jack Seiler‘s response to private citizen activists lobbying for stronger code enforcement has been one of effective avoidance. In response to turtle activist emails, Seiler countered “your facts are wrong.” But what are the ‘facts’ Mayor Seiler is referring to? Take a look at the embedded video and you can see the sea turtle disorientation from the failed enforcement of the lighting ordinance for yourself.  Visit this facebook page for the latest details.

Mayor Jack Seiler can be reached at jack.seiler@fortlauderdale.gov, jackseiler@aol.com

Fort Lauderdale City Hall – PHONE: 954-828-8000 

Complaints: http://ci.ftlaud.fl.us/contact.htm

City Mayor Jack Seiler – CELL: 954-562-0958    PHONE: 954-828-5003

City Manager Lee Feldman – PHONE: 954-828-5013

Commissioner Bruce Roberts – PHONE: 954-828-5004

Commissioner Charlotte E. Rodstrom – PHONE: 954-828-5923 – CELL: 954-292-9378

Commissioner Bobby DuBose – PHONE: 954-828-5004

Commissioner Romney Rogers – PHONE: 954-828-5004


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One comment

  • Ana Campos

    Thank you Maria for this very thought provoking article. It is shame that the City of Fort Lauderdale has not enforced the ordinance and the Mayor Jack Seiler has not act appropriately.

    Thank you for sharing this..

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