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LED-lit fishing nets save sea turtles from getting caught

An endangered species should be safer thanks to a little bit of technology.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
March 25, 2016
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Sometimes, it's the simplest tech that makes the biggest difference. University of Exeter researchers have crafted fishing nets with evenly distributed green LED lights (one every 33 feet) that warn sea turtles away without spooking fish. While scientists have yet to nail the exact reason the lights steer the turtles clear, one researcher tells Tech Insider that it's likely just a matter of visibility -- the turtles stand a better chance of seeing the net in time to avoid it. It's not only quite effective in early tests (it reduced green turtle deaths by 64 percent), but relatively cheap at $100 to cover a giant 1,640ft net with 50 lights.

The scientists want to verify the results with larger fisheries, and to experiment with different colors. If they find continued success, they could make a lasting impact on wildlife conservation. Thousands of sea turtles die every year due to accidental catches, many of them from endangered species. If the LED-augmented nets can save at least some of those unwitting victims, they could increase the chances that these species will survive or even bounce back.

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