As The Brunswick News rightly noted in its May 18 editorial, Georgia’s sea turtles deserve our pride and protection.

While maintaining a safe distance is very important, one of the most critical conservation actions is to keep our beaches dark. White artificial lights deter females from nesting and cause hatchlings to crawl the wrong way — often, to their death.

To protect our turtles, beachgoers should leave flashlights and flash photography at home. A better alternative is to use turtle-friendly red lights, like the ones available at TurtleSafeOnline.com, at the GSTC, or through the SSI Sea Turtle Project.

This also applies to beachfront properties, where owners and guests should turn off outdoor lighting and shade interior lights. Every year, light pollution from these properties leads to the loss of otherwise healthy hatchlings. Our volunteers work day and night to protect every nest, but we can’t do it alone.

At the start of every nesting season, our team goes door-to-door to educate home and business owners on St. Simons. This year, we’re providing free turtle-friendly flashlights for hotels and vacation rentals to lend to their guests. But with an antiquated county lighting ordinance, the fate of this treasured species still depends on voluntary actions by tourists and homeowners, who don’t always have all the information they need to make responsible decisions.

That’s not enough. As Glynn County works to revise its zoning ordinances, updating our beach lighting ordinance must be prioritized. Otherwise, we will fail our sea turtles and everyone who loves them.

Catherine Ridley

St. Simons Island

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