Development of an education program to minimize the impact of light pollution on sea turtle nesting beaches in Puerto Rico
Group Members: Jessica Castro, Jodany Fortune, Natalia Rodriguez and Francisco Toral Course: Coastal Environment -6117
Background Light pollution is one of the major problems associated with an increased human population and urban development in the coastal zone Negative effects of light pollution on humans health, economy and wildlife
The impact on sea turtlesTurtle hatchlings instinctively orient away from the dark silhouette of the nighttime shore. Here hatchlings have been temporarily distracted by a bright lamp. Hatchlings and mother turtles distracted by shorefront lights can wander onto nearby roadways. image: Lynda Richardson/Corbis
1. Research Problema. Puerto Rico represents the US territory that waste more energy/km2, and the third in the world per individual (after United States and Singapur)b. Several reports in the island described sea turtles (adults and hatchlings) mortality due to artificial light disorientation as well as a decreasing nesting activity in developed areasAn efficient management strategy needs to be developed in order to minimize the impact of light pollution on sea turtles nesting populations in Puerto Rico
GoalTo develop an education program in order to minimize thenegative effect of light pollution on sea turtles nesting beachesin Puerto Rico.
Specific objectives1. To identify the most vulnerable (to light pollution) nesting beaches in Puerto Rico2. To identify key actors that may collaborate with the development of the education program, such as: local NGOs or community leaders, and personal from the Division of Education in the DRNA3. To assess the level of awareness of coastal communities about the negative effects of light pollution, and specifically on sea turtles nesting beaches in Puerto Rico
Hypothesis• The development of a suitable educational program in coastal communities will be helpful to minimize the impact of light pollution on sea turtles nesting beaches in Puerto Rico.
Methodology1.1.The most vulnerable nesting beaches (study areas) will be identified using: 1.1.1. The Light Pollution Map prepared by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust, in order to select those areas with medium to high levels of light pollution 1.1.2. Nesting Activity Map prepared by the DNER (for each sea turtle species) and expert opinions in order to select those nesting beaches with ≥5 nests/km2/season. 1.2. Disorientation and mortality reports presented to the DNER-Endangered Species Office
Methodology (continued)2. Once we identified the study areas, we will contact those key actorsthat might collaborate with the implementation and outreach of theeducation program (e.g., ATIPUR-Ocean Park, Luis Crespo-Maunabo).These groups already conduct sea turtles nesting monitoring.3. Once we identified the most vulnerable nesting beaches, we willconduct a survey to different community members (e.g., residents,hotel managers) in order to assess their level of awareness about theimpact of light pollution on sea turtles nesting beaches in Puerto Rico.
Activitiesa. We will design and handout brochures and signs addressing the problem of light pollution in Puerto Rico. The brochure will include: simple and affordable strategies to deal with this problems links about products available in the market (http://wld.fwc.state.fl.us/seaturtle/Lighting)b. Sign will be placed in the nesting beaches describing sea turtles life cycle and how light pollution may affect this cycle.
Activities (continued)c. Presentations and workshops will be given in collaboration with local leaders and NGOs to residents, schools, hotels managers and the municipality.d. Recognition from the DNER will be given to those “turtle friendly communities”
Potential benefits and measures ofsuccessa. The major benefits of this project will be: i. to increase people’s awareness andconsciousness about the negative effects of lightpollution on health, economy, wildlife and ecosystems(comparison of pre- and post-surveys) ii. to reduce both hatchlings and adultsdisorientation events and mortality (by monitoring nestingand hatching activity) iii. to increase nesting activities in the selectedvulnerable beaches (monitoring and comparison withprevious years)
Sea Turtle Conservation Maunabo CommunityProject Project Objectives discourage and prevent poaching or theft of eggs and help gather reliable data on turtle nesting in Maunabo beaches . http://www.comitemaunabo.com/tortu.htm
Sea Turtle Conservation Maunabo CommunityProject General Information This project is an initiative of a group of community volunteers Maunabo. Director: Mr. Luis Crespo (science teacher) Collaboration: Sea Grant Program of the College of Humacao, “Cuerpo de Vigilantes” Department of Natural Resources Region of Humacao. http://www.comitemaunabo.com/tortu.htm
Sea Turtle Conservation Maunabo CommunityProject Achievements (2001-06) 29 volunteers, collected data from the 4 beaches in Maunabo. The poaching was significantly reduced. Problems (2007) It reduced the number of volunteers to 9. During the 2007 season has again increased poaching leatherback turtles and two have been dismembered. http://www.comitemaunabo.com/tortu.htm
Time schedulea. This project will be conducted on February, May, August andDecember 2012. These months were selected based onnesting seasons and hatchling events for leatherbacks’(Dermochelys coriacea), green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill(Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles.