Between March and October of every year, female sea turtles—Loggerheads, Leatherbacks, and others—emerge from the Atlantic Ocean to dig holes in the sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach. In their newly dug nests, they lay golf-ball sized eggs totaling in the tens of thousands, bury them in the sand to prevent predators from getting at them, and return to the water.
The mothers never return and the hatchlings, once they break free from their eggs and dig themselves out of the sand, are left to find their own way back to the ocean. It might only be a few yards between their nest and the ocean, but to these little creatures it’s a long journey. Years later, the females that hatch here will travel thousands of miles to return to this very same beach to lay their own eggs.
This cycle of life has been unfolding for millennia on beaches around the world. In the U.S., 90% of nesting occurs on Florida’s shores. Seagulls and other predators have always been threats to this cycle. And in the modern age, other obstacles get in the way of this incredible natural phenomenon: beach litter and furniture, human disturbance, and artificial light.
Sea turtle hatchlings rely on moonlight and the moon’s reflections to navigate their way across the sands into Atlantic waters. Artificial light from streetlamps and from beachside buildings disorient them and may put them off track. In addition, manmade light discourages the females from coming on to the beach at all—which means her eggs will never be laid in a safe spot.
At the new Sonesta Fort Lauderdale, our Culture of Caring supports sea turtle nesting by monitoring our building’s light during nesting season. Each evening, we’re sure to keep vacant rooms dark. If lights must be kept on, we keep shades closed in meeting rooms and ask our guests to do the same in their rooms. Further, we use amber lighting on the building’s exterior and in our penthouse meeting space. When lights must be turned on, we close the shades. Guests can learn more and support the delicate balance of sea turtle nesting through our Adopt-a-Turtle program, with a portion of donations going directly to the Sea Turtle Conservancy.