TREASURE ISLAND — Baby sea turtles should have an easier time finding their way around the beach this nesting season.
City officials say they have installed eight sea turtle-friendly lights along Gulf Boulevard — which runs parallel to the coast — to minimize the amount of light that could prevent hatchlings on the beach from finding the water.
Sea turtles rely on moonlight in order to find their way back into the sea after hatching on beaches. Artificial light, generated by street lights and beachside businesses, can confuse the hatchlings and cause them to crawl the wrong way, away from the water and into roads or neighborhoods.
Estimates project artificial light kills thousands of turtles each nesting season, which runs between May and October.
The eight lights installed by the Treasure Island city officials are designed to minimize the amount of light visible from the beach, prompting hatchlings to follow moonlight instead.
The lights are part of a trial program, the city said. If successful, the program will be expanded throughout the Pinellas County coastline along Gulf Boulevard. For now, however, they are limited to an area near 112th Avenue.
Treasure Island officials say they worked closely with Duke Energy to commission a streetlight fixture that met standards for approval by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. State Rep. Linda Chaney, R-St. Pete Beach, and the Florida Department of Transportation also played a part in commissioning the light project.