ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. - A petition for a First Coast beach to change its ordinances on beach front lighting has attracted supporters across the country, especially sea turtle advocates.
Advocates for endangered sea turtles are calling for Atlantic Beach's city council to enact an ordinance on sea turtle protection similar to laws for Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach..
The survival of baby sea turtles during hatching season depends on them traveling from their nest in the sand to the ocean using instincts, sounds, and moonlight as their guide. The Jacksonville Beaches Sea Patrol said bright artificial light from beach front properties can disorient the creatures, attracting them to go in the opposite direction never reaching their natural destination.
A city ordinance banning certain levels of light during sea turtle hatching season, which begins May 1, was proposed Monday. Atlantic Beach city council members said most residents are already in compliance, but a new law would help penalize the few repeated violators.
A voluntary sea turtle protection ordinance is already in effect, but does not give the city any enforcement power, said a Sea Turtle Patrol representative.
Casey Jones of Atlantic Beach started a Change.org petition and has received over 117,000 signatures.
Jones says the proposed ordinance is a step in the right direction, but he's hopeful enforcement comes soon to limit man-made predators of the turtles.