The other day a Florida homeowner called me to inquire about “turtle film” – window film that helps to protect nesting sea turtles and hatchlings along the U.S. coastline. He was looking for a film that would meet his local lighting ordinance. So, I thought I’d put together a post on the topic and explain why many wildlife protection agencies are recommending window film as a way to protect sea turtles.
Why Is Turtle Film Needed?
Did you know that there are six sea turtle species that live in U.S. waters and all of them are on the endangered species list? Sea turtles face many man-made dangers including getting caught in fishing nets, the reduction in their natural habitat due to real estate development, and artificial light pollution.
Nesting sea turtles come to our beaches to nest once a year – typically in the summer. After mating, female turtles will come ashore, dig a hole called an egg chamber, and lay anywhere from 50-200 eggs depending on the species. They cover the eggs with sand and return to the ocean.
After about 45-65 days, the baby turtles hatch and dig their way to the surface. Once above ground, the hatchlings’ main goal is to return to the ocean. According to SWOT (State of the World’s Sea Turtles), “hatchlings generally wait until night to head for the ocean, when they can use the cover of darkness to avoid detection by many predators on the beach and in the water. It is believed that a drop in temperature triggers the hatchlings to leave the nest and head to the ocean.”
This is where a problem can occur. Artificial light from homes and buildings along the beach can disorient the hatchlings causing them to move away from the ocean and towards homes and properties instead.
What is Turtle Film?
Many state and local agencies in areas where turtles nest, like The Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) have taken up the issue and have created lighting ordinances to help minimize the effects of artificial lighting on the turtles. One of the requirements is that beach front homes install window film to reduce the amount of visible light on the beach.
The excerpt below was taken from FWC’s Sea Turtle Lighting Guidelines:
Impacts from interior lighting State rules require that tinted glass or film with a visible light transmittance value of forty-five (45) percent or less (inside to outside) must be used on all glass windows, doors, and walls within line of sight of the beach, usually the seaward and shore-perpendicular sides of the structure. However, since those rules were passed, there are now better options because of advances in tinting and more information on sea turtle disorientations. Window tints/film with transmittance values lower than 45% are available that are energy efficient, pleasing, and easily seen through. The best option for minimizing interior lighting impacts to sea turtles is to use the darkest tint available. Tints with 25 to 30% transmittance are among the most popular and tints as low as 15% have been used successfully. Many local lighting ordinances require that interior lights cannot be visible from the beach; therefore, the use of higher transmittance tints (such as 45%) often requires installation of additional window treatments to achieve compliance with the ordinance.
The FWC also has a map that highlights local sea turtle ordinances for Florida homeowners:
If you are interested in learning more about the problem and how window film helps to alleviate it, the Sea Turtle Conservancy has a great video you can watch.
Concord Window Film
All ComforTech™ films have a VLT of 45% of visible light or less, so all could be considered turtle film. In addition, our Silver 15 Reflective film has a VLT of 15%. The lighting ordinances differ from State to State and even locality to locality within states, so it is important to check with your local rules and regulations before purchasing. You can use Concord Window Film’s Performance Specifications to confirm with your local agency that the film you choose meets local requirements.
And our solar control film will help reduce the heat coming into your home, save you money on your cooling bills and some shades prvide daytime privacy as well!