The impacts of artificial light on marine turtles

Wilson P., Thums M., Pattiaratchi C., Whiting S., Pendoley K., Ferreira L. C. & Meekan M. (2019) High predation of marine turtle hatchlings near a coastal jetty. Biological Conservation 236, 571-579.

Aim: 
To assess the impact of a jetty with artificial lights on the predation rates and movement patterns (using acoustic tracking devices) of flatback turtle hatchlings as they swim through the nearshore zone.
Type of Study: 
Manipulative experiment
Key Results: 
Hatchling predation was high near a jetty, regardless of the presence or absence of artificial light. A number of hatchlings tagged with acoustic tracking devices were consumed by fish predators, allowing the authors to track the predator's movements. Tracks revealed that these predators were using the jetty as a daytime refuge, and dispersing along nearshore waters at night to prey on hatchlings, particularly in an area adjacent to where turtle nesting was concentrated. Predation of hatchlings was much higher at this location than an unmodified (no jetty) section of coastline nearby.
Response: 
Agencies that oversee the installation of in-water structures near turtle nesting beaches should recognise that they may act as shelter sites for predators and impact hatchling survival.
Reviewer: 
Phillipa Wilson
Ecosystem: 
Nearshore waters, Thevenard Island, Western Australia, Australia
Full Reference: 
Wilson P., Thums M., Pattiaratchi C., Whiting S., Pendoley K., Ferreira L. C. & Meekan M. (2019) High predation of marine turtle hatchlings near a coastal jetty. Biological Conservation 236, 571-579.