Lighting specialist travels to Cape Verde for Turtle Foundation
Erik Martin, a specialist in turtle-friendly lighting for hotels and other beach-front construction projects on turtle nesting beaches, will be traveling to Cape Verde in May to meet with representatives of the RIU hotel and TUI, a German travel agency that books most of the guests that stay at the RIU hotels on Boavista Island. There is already a RIU hotel near the capital, but a second hotel is opening in May called RIU Touareg on Lacacao Beach on the southern part of the island. Situated on a section of the beach heavily used by the nesting loggerhead turtles, the RIU Touareg has 880 rooms, 5 restaurants, 5 fresh-water and 3 salt-water swimming pools, and hundreds of lounge chairs on the beach. The lights from the hotel, the presence of tourists, lights, and vehicles on the beach, and the building and construction itself threaten the success of the nesting turtles and hatchlings. Adult female turtles may avoid emerging on the beach due to the lights, or become disoriented before or after nesting and have difficulty finding their way back to the sea. Hatchlings are attracted to light, which on a dark beach is the direction of the ocean, but when they see artificial lights they go the wrong way and often die of dehydration or being eaten by crabs, birds, or other predators. Erik and Turtle Foundation hope that RIU and TUI will work with us to find the most turtle-friendly lighting options for the RIU Touareg that will minimize the negative impact on the nesting turtles. Turtle Foundation will be collecting data on the effects of the hotel's lights on the turtles and hatchlings during this year's nesting season.