We take great pride in our community’s sea turtle-protection, as Northeast Florida’s beaches serve as critical nesting grounds.
Atlantic Beach has about 150 oceanfront property owners in Atlantic Beach; all but one – Ocean Ocean Resort – are residential. In 2017, the City Commission adopted a sea turtle-protection ordinance that became effective on May 1, 2018. The ordinance was passed to enable the City to regulate exterior and interior point sources of artificial lighting in a manner that minimizes disturbances and the disorientation of nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings. Until then, the City relied on voluntary compliance with sea turtle-protective lighting standards. That initiative was quite successful in terms of compliance, and set the stage for a smooth transition to mandatory compliance.
We receive occasional reports about potential violations – mostly from the volunteer Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol, with whom we work very closely. Our Police Department also periodically patrols the beach to monitor compliance.
When we receive a report of an apparent violator, our code enforcement officer follows up. Thus far, we have received 100-percent compliance upon contacting the property owners. It’s a super system; indeed, the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol would certainly let City Hall know if it not do its part in this critical, natural resource-protecting undertaking by enforcing our ordinance.
Violators who do not come into compliance would be subjected to the City’s code enforcement process. The amount of the fine would be up to $500, as determined by a code enforcement special magistrate.
The City’s efforts are further bolstered by the City of Jacksonville, which contracts with an environmental services firm to survey the beach to identify possible light sources that may have a negative influence on immerging baby turtles. The City of Atlantic Beach’s code enforcement officer follows up directly on the survey results.
Finally, working with the Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol and using social media, other web platforms, newsletters, etc. the City has an intensive annual sea turtle-protection educational campaign. The Sea Turtle Conservancy partners with the City to conduct community workshops, and the City sends a letter annually to residents reminding/informing them of the sea turtle-protection ordinance and providing guidelines to keep the beach dark during the nesting season. We feel these efforts have contributed largely to our property owners’ support and cooperation.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (904) 247-5804
Beaches Sea Turtle Patrol (www.bstp.net) is a non-profit organization that works for the preservation of endangered marine turtles in Atlantic, Neptune and Jacksonville Beaches. Report sea turtle nests by calling (904) 613-6081.