Preserving darkness and your nighttime ecosystem isn't easy. Worldwide, the night is being turned into day by improperly aimed and unshielded outdoor lighting.
The biggest threats to darkness at Gulf Islands National Seashore come from outside the park boundary. Vistas of dark skies and wildlife such as sea turtles are threatened by surrounding light pollution from cities along the coast. When sea turtles hatch they instinctively move toward light. If artificial lights are present, hatchlings often head toward those lights and fail to reach the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of baby sea turtles are lost annually due to dehydration, predators, or by automobiles.
A dark sky is a natural resource and is worthy of protection just like on old growth forest or a scenic river. Biologists are concerned about the ultimate impact cause by this little-understood ecological disturbance.
Estimates are that one-third of all lighting in the U.S. is wasted and this costs about 30 million barrels of oil and 8.2 million tons of coal every year. The problem is large, but the solution begins with a single light bulb.
Protecting the dark requires controlling the light. Unlike most ecological problems, light pollution has a solution. At the flick of a switch this one could disappear!
Summer Sky Interpretation, Florida District
For more than 30 years, Escambia Amateur Astronomer's Association, has along with the Interpretation staff, conducted annual stargazes during the summer months.