Because of the myriad of environmental concerns related to critically eroded shoreline areas, recycled glass (cullet) has been postulated as a potential alternative source material for beach fill. However, the newly proposed cullet beach material must uphold the nesting incubation properties of endangered species such as sea turtles. This study is the first in which the abiotic parameters of recycled glass cullet is investigated as an alternative beach fill material in relation to the nesting habitat requirements of marine turtles. By constructing a simulated sea turtle nesting hatchery and with the use of thermal/moisture logging sensors and extracted gas probe samples, we determined that recycled cullet maintains the abiotic nesting chamber properties to allow for successful sea turtle embryo development. Simulated nests containing recycled glass cullet recorded average temperatures (27.0–31.4°C) that fell within the acceptable incubation range for sea turtles and moisture content readings that showed no significant differences from the beach sand controls (p > 0.05). Similarly, gas probe samples analyzed from all the experimental cullet nests recorded high concentrations of oxygen (≥20.0%) with no significant variations from the beach sand controls (p > 0.05). Overall, this study showed that nests constructed with a portion of recycled glass cullet offered a nesting environment equal to the developmental conditions of the native beach sand. Worldwide, the nesting beaches of sea turtles are under the constant threat of erosion, which ultimately results in the loss of nesting habitat. With this research, we document that recycled glass cullet can provide a sea turtle–friendly alternative for beach protection.
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Vol. 2008 • No. 243