Back to news index

Timely and relevant publication investigates industrial light and hatchling sea-finding

Published this month in the international journal ‘Wildlife Research’, the article represents a close collaboration between researchers from James Cook University, Pendoley Environmental, and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

This timely study investigates the potential for disruption to hatchling flatback turtle sea-finding behaviour caused by artificial light from industrial development. The authors examine sea-finding behaviour in hatchlings at two key flatback turtle rookeries, at Peak and Curtis Islands in Queensland, over three seasons from 2012 to 2014.

They also evaluate the two methods most commonly used to quantify the influence of light on hatchling orientation, fan-based methods and arena-based methods. While both have value, the study concludes that each method has benefits and limitations, and the greatest accuracy and understanding of hatchling sea-finding behaviour will be obtained by using a combination of both methods.

Importantly, the take home message is a call-to-arms. In the face of continued development and increasing sky-glow around Australia’s coastline, the authors stress the value of rigorous lighting management regimes that consider cumulative light levels, multiple light producers, and the interaction of natural events such as cloud cover and moon phase. Stringent management must occur in tandem with ongoing monitoring to assess and understand the impacts of light from industrial development on turtle behaviour at nearby nesting beaches.

For more information regarding artificial light, industrial development, and hatchling orientation, to discuss artificial light and lighting modelling and management on your project, or request a copy of the article, please email: Dr Ruth Kamrowski (lead and corresponding author).