Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Lights out! You’re killing the ocean VIBES, man!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

And by VIBES, I mean HABITAT.

Beachfront development brings more artificial light to coastlines. This can disrupt animal mating and migration, especially at night. Sea turtle hatchlings emerge from the nest after dark. They rely on visual cues like moonlight to direct them to the sea. So, how does artificial light affect the turtle hatchlings?

Charalampos Dimitriadis and colleagues from the National Marine Park of Zakynthos investigated.

They looked at movement patterns of almost six-thousand hatchlings in Zakynthos, Greece. Researchers measured light pollution exposure and recorded turtle hatchling movements using their tracks and GPS.

Results? At nesting beaches with a lot of artificial light, there were more stray hatchling tracks. Most stray tracks were oriented towards the brightest artificial light sources.

Researchers estimate that artificial light could be reducing sea turtle populations by more than seven percent.

So let’s dim those lights for the baby turtles! It’s a VIBE…

Reference: Dimitriadis, C., Fournari – Konstantinidou, I., Sourbès, L., Koutsoubas, D., & Mazaris, A. D. (2018). Reduction of sea turtle population recruitment caused by nightlight: Evidence from the Mediterranean Region. Ocean & Coastal Management, 153, 108–115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2017.12.013