Bradenton Beach continues to monitor lights
Bradenton Beach code enforcement officers, assisted by a state agent, continue to monitor problem lighting on the shore as sea-turtle nesting season enters its second month.
Code enforcement officers Gail Garneau and Wendy Chabot contacted property owners and property managers along Gulf Drive last week after receiving a state report on potential lighting violations that could harm sea turtles and impact nesting.
Regulations vary in each of the Island cities, but generally the rule is lights out after dark on the beaches during nesting season, which began May 1 and runs through October. Artificial lights away from the water, can disorient the mother turtles and their hatchlings that are instinctively drawn to the sea by the reflection of the moon and stars on the water.
In mid-May, Garneau, Chabot and city building official Steve Gilbert joined Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission agent Jean Higgins in a nighttime walk on the beach.
Higgins prepared a report that she recently sent to the code enforcement officers, who last week were reviewing the document and contacting Gulfront property owners.
Higgins, as she traveled along the beach, said she observed bright lights, decorative lights and floodlights mounted on the sides of buildings that should be shielded or replaced with low-wattage, low-pressure sodium, coated bulbs; interior lights and signs seen through open windows that should be turned off during the season; and exterior signs that should be turned off or diminished with lower wattage bulbs.
Garneau said the city was sharing Higgins’ concerns with property owners and hoping to get matters corrected without taking enforcement action.
Lighting violations, said Garneau, can be serious — for the turtles and for the property owners.
The city’s code states that if the property owner is cited, they must appear before a special master, and if there is a finding a violation has occurred, the first violation “may be punishable by a fine not to exceed $250 per day” and $500 per day for repeat violations.
Also, sea turtles are protected by state and federal laws. Florida law states that “no person may take, possess, disturb, mutilate, destroy … or harass any marine turtle or its nest or eggs at any time.” There are fines for violating the federal and state protection laws.