Lights Out For Turtles
Lights Out: It's the Law!
Because our barrier island beaches serve as nesting places for endangered sea turtles, Beaufort County has enacted a "Lights Out" ordinance during the sea turtle nesting season: May 1 to October 31.
Female Loggerhead sea turtles come ashore from May through August to deposit their eggs. Approximately two months later, hatchlings emerge from the nest, usually at night, and head to the ocean. The natural light reflecting off the water helps them find their way. Lights on or near the beach can confuse the baby turtles, and if they head away from the surf, then dehydration and susceptibility to predators increases. This also exhausts their limited energy supply needed to swim up to sixty miles to the protection of the thick mass of free-floating seaweed known as Sargassum.
Federal civil penalties for having or harassing threatened or endangered species include fines of up to $25,000. Criminal penalties include imprisonment for one year and fines up to $50,000.