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Town Passes Law To Protect Turtles From Light

July 16, 1987

INDIAN HARBOUR BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ This seaside community has become the last in Brevard County to pass a turtle-protection law requiring that beach lights be shielded at night during the reptile’s mating season.

″It’s about time,″ said Wayne Stinnett, vice president of the Sea Turtle Preservation Society in Melbourne Beach. The group has lobbied local governments for years to pass such lighting ordinances.

Brevard beaches are prime nesting spots for loggerhead, leatherneck and green sea turtles that come to the warm waters of central Florida to lay eggs. One part of the shorefront south of Cape Canaveral is the most heavily nested turtle location in the Western Hemisphere, Stinnett said.

After turtles hatch on the beach, babies instinctively follow moonlight to get to the ocean. Bright lights close to the shore confuse the turtles into heading the wrong way.

About 40 percent of the turtles in the country nest in Brevard County, said Marydelle Donnelly, director of the Sea Turtle Rescue Fund in Washington.

The Indian Harbour Beach ordinance adopted Tuesday orders lights to be shielded between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. during nesting season, May 1 to Oct. 31.

The ordinance was effective immediately, but owners of existing buildings with unshielded lights will not be required to comply until next season.

Violators face up to a $500 fine, 60 days in jail, or both.

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