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Town and contractor respond with solutions to lighting concerns

The town of Longboat Key is working on shielding Gulf of Mexico street lights, while Moss Construction is getting the St. Regis construction site in compliance.

A green sea turtle hatchling makes its way to the Gulf.
A green sea turtle hatchling makes its way to the Gulf.
Image courtesy of Marc Ellis
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The town of Longboat Key and Moss Construction are working on addressing several issues with sea turtle-friendly lighting on the island. 

At the Longboat Key Town Commission’s June 3 meeting, resident and Longboat Key Turtle Watch Vice President Cyndi Seamon showed the commission what she said is an improvement in the situation at the St. Regis Longboat Key construction site. 

Previously, Seamon spoke to the commission at a May 20 workshop to bring up the lighting issues she saw while walking the beaches at night. 

After the issues were raised at the commission’s May 20 workshop, Moss Construction sent a statement to the Observer regarding the situation. 

“We deeply regret the recent violation of the Sea Turtle Lighting Guidelines,” the statement read. “This was the result of an unforeseen electrical misalignment that coincided with the start of the season. We sincerely apologize for this lapse and any disruption it may have caused during this short timeframe. Moss is fully committed to environmental stewardship and the protection of wildlife. We take these guidelines very seriously and are currently implementing corrective measures to ensure compliance.”

Seamon said the lighting situation looks “a lot better” with amber lights now in place. 

“When we talked last, I believe the hotel was working on getting their panel fixed so that they could turn the lights off,” Seamon said. “Looks like they did. The rooms are dark and there’s no light coming out of those rooms.”

Overall, there has been some improvement, but there is still more to be done. Bright lights are still an issue in some parts of the construction site, like on the southwest condominium building. 

Newly installed amber lights helped the lighting issue with the St. Regis construction site.
Courtesy image

Town Manager Howard Tipton said he met with the project superintendent of Moss Construction and shared that the crew was successful in getting the technology implemented to remotely control the lighting. He said there were still some issues with the southwest condo building, which was close to a solution. 

In an update sent to commissioners on June 10, Tipton said the St. Regis site was in compliance with the town's sea turtle lighting ordinance. 

Aside from the St. Regis construction, Seamon said there were still issues with the town’s streetlights, which she also brought up at the May 20 workshop. 

Tipton informed Seamon and the commissioners that the shields for the streetlights were ordered and on the way. In an email shared with commissioners, Director of Planning, Zoning and Building Allen Parsons said the installation of the shields is a priority for the department. 

Artificial lighting that can be seen from the beach can pose a problem for both adult and hatchling sea turtles. The turtles can become disoriented when they confuse the artificial light with the moonlight, which they would usually use to guide them to the Gulf.

As of June 1, there were a total of 314 nests on Longboat Key. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the average incubation period for sea turtles is about two months. That means the first hatchlings on Longboat could break the sand in July. 



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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