Replacement fixtures are “sea turtle certified” to protect hatchlings
CLEARWATER BEACH — A project to replace 142 light fixtures with new sea turtle-friendly illumination along the Beach Walk is under way, according to city Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Art Kader.
The cost of the project is estimated at $184,000. The cost per light is $985, and installation is estimated at about $300 per light.
The precast solid concrete lights weigh 300 pounds each. The fixtures meet all the necessary state specifications for sea turtle lighting along the coast, Kader said, which includes a dark amber LED bulb aimed downward and landward.
White lights emanating from residential and commercial construction along coastlines deceive newly hatched turtles into thinking they’re bound for the moonlit water, while, in fact, they’re heading toward deadly destinations: buildings and roads.
Pinellas County beaches are a popular place for female sea turtles, mostly loggerheads, to lay their eggs during a nesting season that stretches from May through October.
The original Beach Walk lighting fixtures that resemble mini lighthouses were installed during construction of the promenade in 2008. A combination of sea-borne salt conditions, blasting sand during storms and an occasional encounter with a skateboarder or bicyclist have taken a toll on the lights.
“They just haven’t held up well,” Kader said, despite the fact the lights were touted by the manufacturer as corrosion-resistant, solid-cast aluminum.
The new lights will be installed in two phases — 109 in the current fiscal year and the remaining 33 in fiscal 2014-15.