The expansion of coastal areas for development severely impairs the ability for sea turtles to nest. This is largely through the reclamation of coastal land for construction, but disturbance to sea turtles and their nests is also associated with increasing nocturnal activity in these areas.
The development of coastal areas for residential complexes, recreation, industry and sea defences disrupt the nesting process in several ways. Perhaps the most severe disruption to turtles is the reclamation of coastal land for development and therefore the loss or reduction in quality of potential nesting sites. Coastal dredging is responsible for not only the direct death of turtles, but also the degradation of their nearshore marine habitats.
These hatchlings were killed while crossing a road. Photo courtesy of Cayman Island Dept. of Environment. The next major effect of development is disturbance. Nesting female turtles are very sensitive to disturbance, and approach beaches at night in order to minimize both interference to themselves and the threat of their nests being discovered by predators.
Coastal development leads to greater nocturnal activity by people at or near nesting sites, discouraging females from depositing their eggs, or damaging nests already made.
Finally, even if a female successfully nests and the eggs hatch, artificial lighting of coastal developments can disorientate hatchlings causing them to travel inland, rather than towards the water, where they face the increased dangers of dehydration, predation or death from crossing roads.