Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

There are some exciting environmental changes going on around Pensacola Beach. Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA) began their recycling program in January of this year; Santa Rosa Island Authority added recycling bins at Casino Beach and hopefully will add more in other areas if the first step is successful; and older bright white street lights to the turtle-friendly amber lights (drive down Ft. Pickens Road one evening and see the difference). Now, Portofino has nearly completed its conversion to turtle-friendly lights.

Toward the end of June I discovered that Portofino had begun the retrofit process. I started going out occasionally at night or before my early morning patrols to document the changes, even though I didn't have all the equipment or expertise for night photography. Below are photos where you can see the difference at Portofino as the project progressed.


The initial bright florescent lighting in the Portofino parking garages contributed to the disorientation of nesting turtles and hatchlings on the east end of the Pensacola Beach.


Even from a distance, the towers were beacons of light.


But by July most of the parking garages had been retrofitted with the new lights and big changes could be seen. [Due to the exposure of the photo above, the amber lights appear a bit brighter than they actually appear.]


Balcony lights were also changed and replaced with the amber bulbs. Yellow, amber and red lights are part of the spectrum much less disruptive to sea turtles.


There are still a few outside parking lights which have to be changed out and there is still the long process of educating residents about the effect their interior lights have on the beach, but the change at Portofino is dramatic. Coming across Bob Sikes bridge at night, you hardly even notice the towers at night...and that's a good thing when it comes to turtles and light pollution.
Other beach towns such as Hilton Head have ordinances that require residents to shield or turn off any lights visible from the beach after 10:00 p.m., May 1 - October 31st! (You may learn more about their Lights Out for Turtles program by clicking HERE.)

There are many people who have worked hard to get these changes implemented at Portofino and developers who have been open-minded and willing to make them happen. I only know a few of them:

Andrew Diller from the University of Florida, Lois Hausman, Jim Cox, and developer Robert Rinke. From a Gulf Islands National Seashore volunteer, a B.I.G. thanks for your help in making these turtle-friendly changes!

4 comments:

pj said...

Kewl!!! I'm so glad to see this kind of work. The beach seems lovelier even from way over here on the west side.

BaysideLife said...

Nice to see words put into action. Kudos to Portofino and all the residents who are making turtle-friendly changes. Thanks for letting us know.

Linda said...

I like this!

Anonymous said...

The only thing is these yellow flourecent tubes are NOT Turtle friendly. The only source that Floroda Fish and Game recognizes as Turtle friendly are Low Pressure Sodium, Amber LED, Red LED not filters or lenses the LEDs themselves have to be red or amber and true Red Neon. A flourecent bulb with a yellow sleeve is not turtle friendly.