Sea turtles thrive with amber LED lighting and dark sky advocates rejoice

May 8, 2020
Luminis luminaires with amber LEDs in Gulf Shores, AL ensure that turtle hatchlings safely make it to the ocean, and the post-top fixtures are dark-sky-friendly for humans.

Gulf Shores, AL has installed new solid-state lighting (SSL) based on amber LEDs along coastline areas where sea turtles nest. The monochromatic amber wavelengths don’t confuse hatchling turtles that rely on an instinctual attraction of cool-white moonlight reflecting off the ocean as a guide to the safety of the sea. The luminaires further feature a design that protects the dark sky. Meanwhile, turtles and other wildlife have thrived around the globe this spring with coronavirus-driven restrictions keeping people off beaches.

This is actually the second article we have posted recently about using LED lighting to help sea turtles to reach the ocean safely. On Earth Day (April 22), we posted a story about a hotel in Gulf Shores that had installed Ketra tunable lighting products outdoors so as not to confuse the hatchlings. Ultimately, we included that story in our May issue and ran a photo of the hotel on the cover.

In our prior article, we pointed out that amber LEDs would be another option to the tunable approach that meets environmental requirements for no emission of energy at wavelengths shorter than 560 nm. The Luminis fixtures integrate the amber LEDs and feature a design with no upward emission of light to protect the dark sky. Indeed, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) partnered recently to issue outdoor lighting guidance that encourages strict limits on uplight.

The Gulf Shores specification team went one step further to ensure that the Luminis Maya fixtures did not attract the attention of hatchlings. If you look at the nearby photo that has one of the light poles in the foreground, and specifically look just under the top reflector that directs light downward, you will see that the installation includes a shield that is installed under the top reflector on the ocean side of the luminaires. That half-cylinder shield reflects the light inland from the ocean and away from the sand.

Around the time of our Earth Day story, we also began to see accounts from mainstream media about turtles and other wildlife thriving in the absence of people on beaches because of coronavirus restrictions. Don’t misunderstand. The ongoing pandemic is horrific for so many and a bountiful crop of sea turtles is of no real consolation. But it is encouraging to see how improvements in our environment can quickly provide significant impact. The stories spanned the globe from Florida to Venice to Thailand. The source of the news about the banner year for turtle hatchlings in Florida seems to be the Loggerhead Marine Life Center. Volunteers have documented double the typical number of nests in one section of Florida beach.

Back to the Luminis product specified in Gulf Shores, the luminaires have been installed along streets and boardwalks in beach areas. Luminis is a brand of The Luminaires Group having been bought by that company in 2016. More recently, Acuity Brands acquired The Luminaires Group last year.

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About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.