Abstract

Light pollution from beachfront hotels has the potential to impact nesting and hatching sea turtles. Education strategies could be used to alter visitor behavior and mitigate this threat. We tested the efficacy of a sea turtle–friendly education card that encouraged visitors to “protect the night, hide the light.” Cards were placed in beachfront hotel rooms at a prominent sea turtle nesting site: Jekyll Island, Georgia. We assessed visitor responses by conducting nightly observations to determine the proportion of occupied guest rooms with beach-visible lights under 2 different scenarios (cards present or cards absent). We found that less than half of all hotel guests closed room blinds to minimize artificial light on the nesting beach, and compliance rates seemed to be lower during peak visitation times. The nonpersonal educational treatment (card) had little effect on visitors' sea turtle–friendly lighting choices and behaviors, highlighting the need for other approaches to encourage responsible tourist behavior at ecologically sensitive beach destinations.

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