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Verutes, G. M., Huang, C., Estrella, R. R., & Loyd, K. (2014). Exploring scenarios of light pollution from coastal development reaching sea turtle nesting beaches near Cabo Pulmo, Mexico. Global Ecology and Conservation, 2, 170–180.
Abstract: New coastal development may offer economic benefits to resort builders and even local communities, but these projects can also impact local ecosystems, key wildlife, and the draw for tourists. We explore how light from Cabo CortÃ©s, a proposed coastal development in Baja California Sur, Mexico, may alter natural light cues used by sea turtle hatchlings. We adapt a viewshed approach to model exterior light originating from the resort under plausible zoning scenarios. This spatially explicit information allows stakeholders to evaluate the likely impact of alternative development options. Our model suggests that direct lightâs ability to reach sea turtle nesting beaches varies greatly by source location and heightâwith some plausible development scenarios leading to significantly less light pollution than others. Our light pollution maps can enhance decision-making, offering clear guidance on where to avoid elevated lamps or when to recommend lighting restrictions. Communities can use this information to participate in development planning to mitigate ecological, aesthetic and economic impacts from artificial lighting. Though tested in Mexico, our approach and free, open-source software can be applied in other places around the world to better understand and manage the threats of light pollution to sea turtles.