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21 June 2013 Artificial lighting and disrupted sea-finding behaviour in hatchling loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) on the Woongarra coast, south-east Queensland, Australia
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Abstract
Coastal development adjacent to sea turtle nesting beaches can result in an increase in exposure to artificial lighting at night. That lighting can repel nesting females and interfere with the orientation of hatchlings from the nest to the sea. Disrupted hatchling orientation is a serious source of turtle mortality, sufficient to reduce recruitment and contribute to a long-term marine turtle population decline. The purpose of this study was to assess whether artificial lighting disrupts hatchling sea-finding behaviour at the largest loggerhead rookery in the South Pacific, the Woongarra coast, south-east Queensland. The crawling tracks of hatchlings that emerged from nests, as well as staged emergences, were used to assess the effect of lighting conditions at several local beaches on hatchling sea-finding behaviour. Disrupted orientation was observed at only a few locations, excluding the majority of the main nesting beach at Mon Repos Conservation Park. At the sites where orientation was disrupted, normal orientation was restored when a full moon was visible, presumably because lunar illumination reduced the perceived brightness of the artificial lights. The controlled use of lights used for guided turtle-viewing tour groups within Mon Repos conservation Park did not interfere with the sea-finding behaviour of hatchling turtles. Further coastal development, especially at the nearby town of Bargara, requires that a light management plan be formulated to ensure that development does not adversely affect the marine turtles that utilise the local nesting beaches.
© CSIRO 2013
Megan Berry, David T. Booth and Colin J. Limpus "Artificial lighting and disrupted sea-finding behaviour in hatchling loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) on the Woongarra coast, south-east Queensland, Australia," Australian Journal of Zoology 61(2), (21 June 2013). https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO13028
Received: 27 March 2013; Accepted: 1 May 2013; Published: 21 June 2013
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