Lights Out for Turtles

The most important thing you can do to protect Hilton Head Island’s Loggerhead sea turtles is
to turn the lights out!

Sea turtle hatchlings usually emerge from the nest at night. They orient themselves toward the brightest horizon and dash towards the sea. Visible lights from buildings or streets near the beach disorient the hatchlings, and they wander inland where they are almost certain to die. If they don’t make it to the ocean quickly, hatchlings are likely to die of dehydration in the sun or could be caught by predators like birds or crabs. Artificial lights also discourage females from nesting.

Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtles on Hilton Head

The Town of Hilton Head Island requires that lights on structures visible from the beach be shielded or turned off from dust to dawn from May 1 to October 31. Any windows facing the beach must also be covered with draperies or shade screens. Failure to do so can result in a hefty fine.

  • Turn off ocean-facing lights by 10 pm from 1May-31 October (it’s the law)
  • After playing in beach sand, return beach to the flat, level state you found it in, pack it out – leave NOTHING on the beach when you leave
  • Don’t shine lights on adult or baby sea turtles or use flash photography
  • To report a light violation call Town Code Enforcement at 843-341-4642 or 843-341-4643
  • To report dead, injured or harassed turtles, call SCDNR at 1-800-922-5431 (24/7)
  • For more info on sea turtles, go to: or

2016 Sea Turtle Brochure

Special thanks to Sally L. Krebs, Sustainable Practices Coordinator for the Town of Hilton Head Island for the additional information on the preservation of our sea turtles!

For more information on how to help protect and preserve other local wildlife, check out these flyers from the Town of Hilton Head!

Alligators – Fascinating Facts
Alligators Slide
Manatees Slide
Sea Turtles Slide