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Journal Article

Behavior of Loggerhead Sea Turtles on an Urban Beach. II. Hatchling Orientation

Michael Salmon, Melissa Garro Tolbert, Danielle Pender Painter, Matthew Goff and Raymond Reiners
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 29, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 568-576
DOI: 10.2307/1564740
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1564740
Page Count: 9

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Topics: Beaches, Silhouettes, Turtles, Lighting, Sea turtles, Oceans, Animal nesting, Female animals, Salmon, Condominiums
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Behavior of Loggerhead Sea Turtles on an Urban Beach. II. Hatchling Orientation
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Abstract

At several locations on an urban nesting beach, loggerhead hatchlings emerging from their nests did not orient toward the sea. The cause was city lighting which disrupted normal seafinding behavior. Observations and experiments were conducted to determine why females nested where hatchlings were exposed to illumination, and how hatchlings responded to local conditions. In some cases, females nested late at night after lights were turned off, but hatchlings emerged earlier in the evening when lights were on. In other cases, the beach was shadowed by buildings directly behind the nest, but was exposed to lights from gaps between adjacent buildings. In laboratory tests, "urban silhouettes" (mimicking buildings with light gaps) failed to provide adequate cues for hatchling orientation whereas natural silhouettes (those without light gaps) did. Adding a low light barrier (simulating a dune or dense vegetation) in front of the gaps improved orientation accuracy. The data show that hatchling orientation is a sensitive assay of beach lighting conditions, and that light barriers can make urban beaches safer for emerging hatchlings. At urban beaches where it may be impossible to shield all luminaires, light barriers may be an effective method for protecting turtles.

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