CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Wildlife Research   
Wildlife Research
Journal Banner
  Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 41(5)

Influence of industrial light pollution on the sea-finding behaviour of flatback turtle hatchlings

Ruth L. Kamrowski A D, Col Limpus B, Kellie Pendoley C and Mark Hamann A

A School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.
B Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, PO Box 2454, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.
C Pendoley Environmental Pty Ltd, 12A Pitt Way, Booragoon, WA 6154, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: ruth.kamrowski@my.jcu.edu.au

Wildlife Research 41(5) 421-434 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR14155
Submitted: 2 May 2014  Accepted: 18 October 2014   Published: 20 February 2015

PDF (657 KB) $25
 Export Citation

Context: Numerous studies show that artificial light disrupts the sea-finding ability of marine turtle hatchlings. Yet very little has been published regarding sea-finding for flatback turtles. Given the current industrialisation of Australia’s coastline, and the large potential for disruption posed by industrial light, this study is a timely investigation into sea-finding behaviour of flatback turtle hatchlings.

Aims: We investigate sea-finding by flatback turtle hatchlings in relation to ambient light present in areas of planned or ongoing industrial development, and evaluate the fan and arena-based methods that are frequently used for quantifying hatchling dispersion.

Methods: Using a combination of methods, we assessed the angular range and directional preference of sea-finding hatchlings at two key flatback turtle rookeries, Peak and Curtis Islands, during January–February 2012 and 2013, and at Curtis Island in January 2014. Relative light levels at each site were measured using an Optec SSP-3 stellar photometer, and moon phase, moon stage and cloud cover were also recorded.

Key results: We found no evidence of impaired hatchling orientation, and observed very low levels of light at Peak Island. However, at Curtis Island, hatchlings displayed reduced sea-finding ability, with light horizons from the direction of nearby industry significantly brighter than from other directions. The sea-finding disruption observed at Curtis Island was less pronounced in the presence of moonlight.

Conclusions: The reduced sea-finding ability of Curtis Island hatchlings was likely due to both altered light horizons from nearby industry, as well as beach topography. Both methods of assessing hatchling orientation have benefits and limitations. We suggest that fan-based methods, combined with strategically placed arenas, would provide the best data for accurately assessing hatchling sea-finding.

Implications: Sky glow produced by large-scale industrial development appears detrimental to sea-finding by flatback turtle hatchlings. As development continues around Australia’s coastline, we strongly recommend continued monitoring of lighting impacts at adjacent turtle nesting beaches. We also advise rigorous management of industrial lighting, which considers cumulative light levels in regions of multiple light producers, as well as moon phase, moon-stage, cloud cover and time of hatchling emergence. All these factors affect the likelihood of disrupted hatchling sea-finding behaviour at nesting beaches exposed to artificial light-glow, industrial or otherwise.

Additional keywords: industrial development, marine turtle, Natator depressus, orientation, Port Curtis


Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011). 3218.0 Queensland regional population growth, Australia, 2009–2010. Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/3218.0Main%20Features62009-10?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=3218.0&issue=200910&num=&view=#PARALINK34 [accessed April 2013].

Batschelet, E. (1981). ‘Circular statistics in biology.’ (Academic Press: London.)

Berry, M., Booth, D. T., and Limpus, C. J. (2013). Artificial lighting and disrupted sea-finding behaviour in hatchling loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) on the Woongarra coast, south-east Queensland, Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 61, 137–145.

Bertolotti, L., and Salmon, M. (2005). Do embedded roadway lights protect sea turtles? Environmental Management 36, 702–710.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Chung, C. F., Pilcher, N. J., Salmon, M., and Wyneken, J. (2009). Offshore migratory activity of hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata L) hatchlings. I. Quantitative analysis of activity, with comparisons to green turtles (Chelonia mydas L) Chelonian Conservation and Biology 8, 28–34.
CrossRef |

Coffey Environments (2012a). 23. Landscape and visual. Arrow LNG Plant: Environmental impact statement. Arrow CSG (Australia) Pty Ltd, Brisbane.

Coffey Environments (2012b). 32. Cumulative impacts. Arrow LNG Plant: Environmental impact statement. Arrow CSG (Australia) Pty Ltd., Brisbane.

Crossin, G. T., Hinch, S. G., Farrell, A. P., Higgs, D. A., Lotto, A. G., Oakes, J. D., and Healey, M. D. (2004). Energetics and morphology of sockeye salmon: effects of upriver migratory distance and elevation. Journal of Fish Biology 65, 788–810.
CrossRef |

Danaher, K. F., Rasheed, M. A., and Thomas, R. (2005). The intertidal wetlands of Port Curtis. Information Series QI05031. Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland.

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (2013). Monitoring of coastal turtles in the Port Curtis and Port Alma region: gap analysis. Part 5: Flatback turtles. Available at: http://www.westernbasinportdevelopment.com.au/media/pdf/ERMP%20Final%20Report%20%20Part%205%20Monitoring%20of%20Coastal%20Sea%20Turtles%20Gap%20Analysis.pdf [accessed November 2013].

Dryden, J., Grech, A., Moloney, J., and Hamann, M. (2008). Rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: does it afford greater protection for marine turtles? Wildlife Research 35, 477–485.
CrossRef |

Duke, N. C., Lawn, P., Roelfsema, C. M., Phinn, S., Zahmel, K. N., Pedersen, D., Harris, C., Steggles, N., and Tack, C. (2003). Assessing historical change in coastal environments. Port Curtis, Fitzroy River Estuary and Moreton Bay regions. Final Report to the CRC for Coastal Zone Estuary & Waterway Management. Historical Coastlines Project, Marine Botany Group, Centre for Marine Studies. The University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Elvidge, C., Sutton, P., Baugh, K., Ziskin, D., Ghosh, T., and Anderson, S. (2011). National trends in satellite observed lighting: 1992–2009. Remote Sensing 3, 1–17.

Fritsches, K. A. (2012). Australian loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings do not avoid yellow. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 45, 79–89.
CrossRef |

GBRMPA (2008). Keppel Bay and islands site management arrangements. Available at: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/visit-the-reef/site-specific-management/keppel-bay-and-islands-site-management-arrangements

Glen, F., Broderick, A. C., Godley, B. J., and Hays, G. C. (2005). Patterns in the emergence of green (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtle hatchlings from their nests. Marine Biology 146, 1039–1049.
CrossRef |

Glen, F., Broderick, A. C., Godley, B. J., and Hays, G. C. (2006). Thermal control of hatchling emergence patterns in marine turtles. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 334, 31–42.

Grech, A., Bos, M., Brodie, J., Coles, R., Dale, A., Gilbert, R., Hamann, M., Marsh, H., Neil, K., and Pressey, R. (2013). Guiding principles for the improved governance of port and shipping impacts in the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Pollution Bulletin 75, 8–20.
| PubMed |

Gyuris, E. (1993). Factors that control the emergence of green turtle hatchlings from the nest. Wildlife Research 20, 345–353.
CrossRef |

Hamann, M., Grech, A., Wolanski, E., and Lambrechts, J. (2011). Modelling the fate of marine turtle hatchlings. Ecological Modelling 222, 1515–1521.
CrossRef |

Hargis, C. D., Bissonette, J. A., and David, J. L. (1998). The behavior of landscape metrics commonly used in the study of habitat fragmentation. Landscape Ecology 13, 167–186.
CrossRef |

Hodge, W., Limpus, C. J., and Smissen, P. (2007). Queensland turtle conservation project: Hummock Hill Island nesting turtle study December 2006. Conservation Technical and Data Report. Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland.

Kamrowski, R. L. (2014). Coastal light pollution in Australia: insights and implications for marine turtle conservation. Ph.D. Thesis, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland.

Kamrowski, R. L., Limpus, C., Moloney, J., and Hamann, M. (2012). Coastal light pollution and marine turtles: assessing the magnitude of the problem. Endangered Species Research 19, 85–98.
CrossRef |

Kamrowski, R. L., Limpus, C., Jones, R., Anderson, S., and Hamann, M. (2014). Temporal changes in artificial light exposure of marine turtle nesting areas. Global Change Biology 20, 2437–2449.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Kawamura, G., Naohara, T., Tanaka, Y., Nishi, T., and Anraku, K. (2009). Near-ultraviolet radiation guides the emerged hatchlings of loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta (Linnaeus) from a nesting beach to the sea at night. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 42, 19–30.
CrossRef |

Koch, A. U., Guinea, M. L., and Whiting, S. D. (2008). Asynchronous emergence of flatback seaturtles, Natator depressus, from a beach hatchery in northern Australia. Journal of Herpetology 42, 1–8.
CrossRef |

Kyba, C.C.M., Ruhtz, T., Fischer, J., and Holker, F. (2011). Cloud coverage acts as an amplifier for ecological light pollution in urban ecosystems PLoS ONE 6, e17307.
CrossRef |

Limpus, C. (1971). Sea turtle ocean finding behaviour. Search 2, 385–387.

Limpus, C. (1985). A study of the loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, in Queensland. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Limpus, C. (2009). A biological review of Australian marine turtles. Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland Government, Queensland.

Limpus, C. J., and Kamrowski, R. L. (2013). Ocean-finding in marine turtles: the importance of low horizon elevation as an orientation cue. Behaviour 150, 863–893.

Limpus, C., McLaren, M., McLaren, G., and Knuckey, B. (2006). Queensland Turtle Conservation Project: Curtis Island and Woongarra Coast Flatback Turtle Studies, 2005–2006. Conservation technical and data report. Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Queensland.

Lohmann, K. J., Witherington, B., Lohmann, C. M. F., and Salmon, M. (1997). Orientation, navigation, and natal beach homing in sea turtles. In ‘The Biology of Sea Turtles’. (Eds P. L. Lutz, and J. A. Musick.) pp. 107–135. (CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL.)

Mardia, K. V., and Jupp, P. E. (2000). ‘Directional Statistics.’ (John Wiley & Sons Ltd: Chichester, UK.)

Mrosovsky, N. (1968). Nocturnal emergence of sea turtles: control by thermal inhibition of activity. Nature 220, 1338–1339.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Mrosovsky, N. (1970). The influence of the sun’s position and elevated cues on the orientation of hatchling sea turtles. Animal Behaviour 18, 648–651.
CrossRef |

Mrosovsky, N. (1972). The water-finding ability of sea turtles; behavioural studies and physiological speculations. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 5, 202–225.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Parmenter, C. J., and Limpus, C. J. (1995). Female recruitment, reproductive longevity and inferred hatchling survivorship for the flatback turtle (Natator depressus) at a major eastern Australian rookery. Copeia 1995, 474–477.
CrossRef |

Pendoley, K. (2000). The influence of gas flares on the orientation of green turtle hatchlings at Thevenard Island, Western Australia. In ‘Second ASEAN Symposium and Workshop on Sea Turtle biology and Conservation. Kotal Kinabalu’. (ASEAN Academic Press.)

Pendoley, K. (2005). Sea turtles and the environmental management of industrial activities in north west Western Australia. Ph.D. Thesis, Murdoch University, Perth.

Pendoley Environmental (2011). Gladstone baseline sky cam light monitoring 2011. Prepared for Gladstone Ports Corporation. Available at: http://www.westernbasinportdevelopment.com.au/media/pdf/Gladstone%20Baseline%20Sky%20Cam%20Light%20monitoring%202011.pdf [accessed May 2013].

Pereira, C. M., Booth, D. T., and Limpus, C. J. (2011). Locomotor activity during the frenzy swim: analysing early swimming behaviour in hatchling sea turtles. The Journal of Experimental Biology 214, 3972–3976.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Pereira, C. M., Booth, D. T., and Limpus, C. J. (2012). Swimming performance and metabolic rate of flatback Natator depressus and loggerhead Caretta caretta sea turtle hatchlings during the swimming frenzy. Endangered Species Research 17, 43–51.
CrossRef |

Pestalozzi, N., Cauwels, P., and Sornette, D. (2013). Dynamics and spatial distribution of global nighttime lights. Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 13-02. Available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2237410 or http://dx.doi.org/ 10.2139/ssrn.2237410 10.2139/ssrn.2237410

Pulido, F. (2007). The genetics and evolution of avian migration. Bioscience 57, 165–174.
CrossRef |

QGC (2011). Significant species management plan. QGC Pty Ltd, Queensland.

Rich, C., and Longcore, T. (Eds) (2006). ‘Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting.’ (Island Press: Washington, DC.)

Rogers, R. R., and Yau, M. K. (1989). ‘A Short Course in Cloud Physics.’ (Pergamon Press: Oxford.)

Salmon, M. (2003). Artificial night lighting and sea turtles. Biologist (Columbus, Ohio) 50, 163–168.

Salmon, M. (2006). Protecting sea turtles from artificial night lighting at Florida’s oceanic beaches. In ‘Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting’. (Eds C. Rich, and T. Longcore.) pp. 141–168. (Island Press: Washington, DC.)

Salmon, M., and Witherington, B. (1995). Artificial lighting and seafinding by loggerhead hatchlings: evidence for lunar modulation. Copeia 1995, 931–938.
CrossRef |

Salmon, M., and Wyneken, J. (1990). Do swimming loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta L.) use light cues for offshore orientation? Marine Behaviour and Physiology 17, 233–246.
CrossRef |

Salmon, M., and Wyneken, J. (1994). Orientation by hatchling sea turtles: mechanisms and implications. Herpetological Natural History 2, 13–24.

Salmon, M., Wyneken, J., Fritz, E., and Lucas, M. (1992). Seafinding by hatchling sea turtles: role of brightness, silhouette and beach slope as orientation cues. Behaviour 122, 56–77.
CrossRef |

Salmon, M., Tolbert, M. G., Painter, D. P., Goff, M., and Reiners, R. (1995). Behavior of loggerhead sea turtles on an urban beach. II. Hatchling orientation. Journal of Herpetology 29, 568–576.
CrossRef |

Salmon, M., Hamann, M., Wyneken, J., and Schauble, C. (2009). Early swimming activity of hatchling flatback sea turtles Natator depressus: a test of the ‘predation risk’ hypothesis. Endangered Species Research 9, 41–47.
CrossRef |

Sella, K. N., Salmon, M., and Witherington, B. E. (2006). Filtered streetlights attract hatchling marine turtles. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 5, 255–261.
CrossRef |

Stewart, K. E. J., Bourn, N. A. D., and Thomas, J. A. (2001). An evaluation of three quick methods commonly used to assess sward height in ecology. Journal of Applied Ecology 38, 1148–1154.
CrossRef |

Tuxbury, S. M., and Salmon, M. (2005). Competitive interactions between artificial lighting and natural cues during seafinding by hatchling marine turtles. Biological Conservation 121, 311–316.
CrossRef |

URS Australia (2009). Final report: GLNG environmental impact statement – EPBC controlled action assessment report. QGC Pty Limited on behalf of Santos Ltd, Brisbane, Queensland.

Van Buskirk, J., and Crowder, L. B. (1994). Life-history variation in marine turtles. Copeia 1994, 66–81.
CrossRef |

Walker, T. A., and Parmenter, C. J. (1990). Absence of a pelagic phase in the life cycle of the flatback turtle, Natator depressa (Garman). Journal of Biogeography 17, 275–278.
CrossRef |

Witherington, B. (1997). The problem of photopollution for sea turtles and other nocturnal animals. In ‘Behavioral Approaches to Conservation in the Wild’. (Eds J.R. Clemmons, and R. Buchholz.) pp. 303–328. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.)

Witherington, B., and Bjorndal, K. (1991a). Influences of artificial lighting on the seaward orientation of hatchling loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta. Biological Conservation 55, 139–149.
CrossRef |

Witherington, B., and Bjorndal, K. A. (1991b). Influences of wavelength and intensity on hatchling sea turtle phototaxis: implications for sea-finding behavior. Copeia 1991, 1060–1069.
CrossRef |

Witherington, B., and Martin, R. E. (2000). Understanding, assessing, and resolving light-pollution problems on sea turtle nesting beaches. 2nd (rev.) edn. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Marine Research Institute, Tech. Rep. TR-2., St Petersburg, FL.

Witherington, B., Crady, C., and Bolen, L. (1996). A “hatchling orientation index” for assessing orientation disruption from artificial lighting. In ‘Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation’. (Comp. J. A. Keinath, D. Barnard, J. Musick and B. Bell.) pp. 344–347. NOAA Tech. Mem. NMFS-SEFSC-387.

WorleyParsons (2010). Appendix I – Marine mammal and turtles management plan. Australia Pacific LNG Project. WorleyParsons Services Pty Ltd on behalf of Australia Pacific LNG Pty Ltd.

Wyneken, J., and Salmon, M. (1992). Frenzy and postfrenzy swimming activity in loggerhead, leatherback, and green sea turtles. Copeia 1992, 478–484.
CrossRef |

Wyneken, J., Madrak, S., Salmon, M., and Foote, J. (2008). Migratory activity by hatchling loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta L.): evidence for divergence between nesting groups. Marine Biology 156, 171–178.
CrossRef |

Zar, J. H. (2010). ‘Biostatistical Analysis.’ (Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.)

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2016