We Like Turtles
Harbinger Helps 7-Eleven Protect Nesting Habits of Sea Turtles along the Gulf Coast
Artificial light on Florida’s coastline has become a scourge for hatching sea turtles. According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, “Hatchlings have an innate instinct that leads them in the brightest direction, which is normally moonlight reflecting off of the ocean. Excess lighting from the near-shore buildings and streets draw hatchlings toward land, where they may be eaten, run over, or drown in swimming pools” (conserveturtles.org). This makes a well-lit convenience store on the coast potentially hazardous to new turtles. It can also scare away female sea turtles seeking the darkest beaches with healthy sand dune systems to lay and bury their eggs. It is imperative to the lifecycle of sea turtles to have dark and safe beaches, something often difficult to obtain in a modern seaside community.
“Aftermarket RLM lighting technology was used to project light downward, creating a dimmer effect to keep light from projecting outward.”Ed Busey, Harbinger’s Creative Director
Saving Sea Turtles from the Threats of Artificial Light
7-Eleven has 5 coastal locations in Fort Myers, Florida. Exterior store lighting had to be considered to ensure the successful migration of sea turtles from their nests to the sea during the May to October hatching season. This presented a unique challenge that required innovative thinking to address. Harbinger’s Rick Guarino said, “since most convenience stores want their signage as bright as possible, this project turned out to be a unique challenge and an unusual requirement for our team.”
Harbinger and 7-Eleven were compelled to help the indigenous wildlife and comply with Fort Myers’ Dark Sky regulations while helping 7-Eleven meet their business needs. This was achieved through “marrying several different processes and incorporating new technologies that fit each location’s needs,” said Rick.
Harbinger Helped 7-Eleven Reduce Threats of Local Wildlife through Innovative Technologies & Forward Thinking
At 3 of the locations, an opaquing technique was utilized to effectively reduce light visibility. Rick describes opaquing as “masking off opaque paint on the underside of the sign where you don’t want light to show through. The end result allows 7-Eleven’s brand and traditional embossed look to be visible during daylight, while only the ‘7’ and ‘ll’ are illuminated at night.”
At the other 2 locations, “aftermarket RLM (Reflective Luminary Manufacturer) lighting technology was used to project light downward, creating a dimmer effect to keep light from projecting outward.” Furthermore, LED lights and a number of technologies were employed to control the timing of lighting systems. Harbinger’s Ed Busey described how this allowed our team to “utilize time sensors at coastal locations that affect lighting according to hatching season and lighting restrictions based on time-of-day. The color of the lighting diode being used was also taken into consideration. In sensitive areas we often use red, orange, or amber LED bulbs with colored diodes (never color filters) to be sensitive to community needs and compliant with the Florida Wildlife Commission.”
Protecting Coastal Turtles & Local Business
These modifications, “helped create sufficient solutions that were aesthetically pleasing and met lighting regulations during critical hatching months,” said Rick. This strategy provided an elegant solution that was fully compliant with Fort Myers’ Dark Sky Policy without compromising 7-Eleven’s brand guidelines. Harbinger is proud to have helped our client, their community, and the environment with some uncommon solutions. By working together, we ensure that the hatchlings will be able to find their way back to the ocean so there will be many future generations of sea turtles.