Informing sea turtle outreach efforts to maximize effectiveness

Wildlife Society Bulletin
By: , and 



Most sea turtle (Cheloniidae) species worldwide are endangered or threatened, with threats causing harm to sea turtles predominantly human‐induced. Thus, prevention of further declines to these imperiled species will require alteration of human behaviors. Regulations, incentives, and environmental education are 3 strategies that could be used to alter human behavior. Our goal was to determine how to maximize effectiveness of one of these strategies—education efforts. We investigated knowledge deficiencies and light pollution behaviors of individuals living in a region with nesting sea turtles, in an effort to determine the best approach to promote sea turtle conservation. During 2014, we mailed a survey to 3,000 property owners in 4 coastal counties in Florida, USA, to achieve 3 objectives: assess what topic areas were misunderstood; discern who had knowledge deficiencies; and determine who had adopted turtle‐friendly lighting practices. The best predictors of knowledge included geographic factors (county, proximity of residences to the beach), demographic characteristics (age), and behaviors (individual's beach visitation rates). One practice that can reduce harm to sea turtles was common: use of window treatments to reduce light pollution. However, other practices harmful to sea turtles were prevalent, including long durations of use of outdoor lighting and use of light bulbs with wavelengths that can disturb sea turtles. Our results suggest that educational efforts could be enhanced by specifically focusing on increasing awareness of the effects of human actions on sea turtles, targeting individuals who visit the beach infrequently and live far from it to foster greater connection with these ecosystems, and publicizing a variety of options that could reduce harm to sea turtles so individuals feel a sense of freedom of choice.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Informing sea turtle outreach efforts to maximize effectiveness
Series title Wildlife Society Bulletin
DOI 10.1002/wsb.1004
Volume 43
Issue 3
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description 11 p.
First page 436
Last page 446
Country United States
State Florida
County Bay County, Franklin County, Gulf County, Walton County
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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