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Point and Shoot: Enhancing Coastal Lighting Evaluations with the Use of Laser Sighted GPS

Wednesday, August 26
10:00–10:45 AM PT
 | 1:00–1:45 PM ET

About the Session

Ecological Associates, Inc. (EAI) has conducted sea turtle monitoring on Florida beaches for over 25 years. As part of this monitoring, and in compliance with specific conditions set forth in Florida Department of Environmental Protection permits for beach nourishment projects, nighttime lighting evaluations are performed to document all artificial lighting visible from the restored beach. In 2016, EAI refined its methodology by incorporating a highly accurate GPS system with an attached laser sighted rangefinder to expedite and enhance each lighting survey. Surveys are conducted at night using a Trimble Geo7X real time kinematic GPS. As light sources are observed from the beach, a GPS point is collected, along with a photograph of the light in violation. A GPS location of the light source is also recorded using the attached laser rangefinder. The collected points are then imported into mapping software to allow for overlay of the point features on an aerial image. Using this technology, EAI has created more detailed and interactive lighting evaluation reports. Working closely with municipalities, these reports are used by local code enforcement officers to address lighting issues with coastal residents and property managers in a timely fashion. On-site consultations between EAI staff and coastal residents/property managers provide an opportunity to discuss site-specific lighting retrofits and aid property managers in connecting with lighting manufacturers. These consultations have resulted in expedited retrofits and enhanced lighting compliance. Improvements in both the lighting survey technique and quality of lighting reports have yielded more effective lighting management programs and serve to combat lighting pollution on sea turtle nesting beaches.


  • Endangered Species 

About the Speaker

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Joseph Scarola
Ecological Associates, Inc.

Professional biologist with Ecological Associates, Inc. (EAI). Experience conducting sea turtle research in Cape Verde, Barbados, Western Australia, Georgia, Texas, and South Florida. Specializes in sea turtle conservation, shorebird surveys, beachfront lighting management, data collection using decimeter accurate GPS Systems, and statistical analyses. Member of the International Sea Turtle Society and International Dark-Sky Association, and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approved Endangered Species Observer for Dredge and Disposal Projects.


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