Protect the Turtles

Mexico Beach is committed to protecting the natural wildlife that inhabits our community and state. Residents and property-owners have proudly adopted the following standards to protect sea turtles. Below are the standards for new construction activities and existing artificial lighting sources.

In addition to these standards, there are many steps we can take in our daily activities to protect these beautiful creatures.
  • Don't disturb a turtle that is crawling to or from the ocean or laying eggs. Watch from a distance of at least 30 feet
  • Avoid shining lights on the beach at night as this may frighten away nesting females and, interfere with the hatchlings ability to find the sea
  • Avoid walking or cycling in nesting area
  • Avoid walking on the beach dunes
  • Don't disturb nesting seabirds
  • Don't litter. Cigarette butts, fishing line and other trash can harm the animals and birds along the beach
  • Rearrange lamps and other moveable fixtures away from windows
  • Use window treatments (e.g. blinds, curtains) to shield interior lights from the beach
  • Turn off unnecessary lights

Standards for New Construction Activities

In order to provide the highest level of protection for nesting marine turtles and their hatchlings, the following standards for artificial light sources on all new coastal construction seaward of the Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL) are adopted:
  1. Exterior artificial light fixtures shall be designed and positioned so that:
    1. The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach;
    2. Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not directly or indirectly illuminated: and
    3. Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not cumulatively illuminated.

  2. Exterior artificial light fixtures within direct line-of-sight of the beach will be permitted only if designed and installed as follows:
    1. Completely shielded downlight only fixtures or recessed fixtures having low wattage (i.e., 25 watts or less) "bug" type bulbs and non-reflective surfaces are used. Other fixtures that have appropriate shields, louvers or cutoff features may also be used if they are in compliance with subsection (1) (a), (b) and (c) above; and
    2. All fixtures are mounted as low in elevation as possible through use of low-mounted wall fixtures, low bollards, and ground-level fixtures.

  3. Floodlights, uplights or spotlights that are directly visible from the beach, or which indirectly or cumulatively illuminate the beach, are prohibited.
  4. No lighting shall be allowed on dune walkovers.
  5. Only low intensity lighting shall be used in parking areas within line-of-sight of the beach. Such lighting shall be:
    1. Set on a base which raises the source of light no higher than 48 inches off the ground; and
    2. Positioned or shielded so that the light is cast downward and the source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach and does not directly or indirectly illuminate the beach.

  6. Tinted glass shall be installed on all windows and glass doors of single or multi-story structures within line-of-sight of the beach.
  7. Use of appropriately shielded low-pressure sodium-vapor lamps and fixtures shall be required for high-intensity lighting applications such as lighting parking areas and roadways, providing security, and similar applications.
  8. Temporary lighting of construction sites during the marine turtle nesting season shall be restricted to the minimal amount necessary and shall incorporate all of the standards of this section.
  9. Before granting any building permit, the Mexico Beach Planning and Building Department shall determine that all proposed development complies in all respects with the standards imposed in this section.
  10. Permits will not be required to install utility leased lighting, but all such lighting shall comply in all respects with the standards imposed in this ordinance.
  11. For any coastal construction completed after the effective date of this ordinance, the lighting shall not be changed without first obtaining a permit from the County. Such permits shall only be issued when the proposed lighting plan complies with this ordinance .

Standards for Existing Lighting

In order to provide the highest level of protection for nesting marine turtles and their hatchlings, the county hereby adopts all of the following standards for existing artificial lighting sources, including utility leased lighting, seaward of the CCCL:
  1. Existing artificial light fixtures shall be repositioned or modified so that:
    1. The point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not directly visible from the beach;
    2. Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not directly or indirectly illuminated; and
    3. Areas seaward of the frontal dune are not cumulatively illuminated.

  2. The following measures may be taken to comply with this section:
    1. Reposition fixtures so that the point source of light or any reflective surface of the light fixture is no longer visible from the beach;
    2. Replace fixtures having an exposed light source with fixtures containing recessed light sources or shields;
    3. Replace traditional light bulbs with yellow "bug" type bulbs not exceeding 25 watts;
    4. Replace non-directional fixtures with directional fixtures that point down and away from the beach;
    5. Replace fixtures having transparent or translucent coverings with fixtures having opaque shields covering an arc of at least 180 degrees and extending an appropriate distance below the bottom edge of the fixture on the seaward side so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach;
    6. Replace pole lamps with low-profile, low-level luminaries so that the light source or any reflective surface of the light fixture is not visible from the beach;
    7. Replace incandescent, fluorescent, and high intensity lighting with the lowest wattage low-pressure sodium-vapor lighting possible for the specific application;
    8. Permanently remove or permanently disable any fixture which cannot be brought into compliance with the provisions of these standards;
    9. Disconnect utility leased lighting during the marine turtle nesting season.

  3. The following measures shall be taken as applicable to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of interior light emanating from doors and windows within line-of-sight of the beach:
    1. Apply window tint or film that meets the standards for tinted glass
    2. Rearrange lamps and other moveable fixtures away from windows;
    3. Use window treatments (e.g. blinds, curtains) to shield interior lights from the beach; and
    4. Turn off unnecessary lights