The coastal communities of Trinidad & Tobago are among the poorest, with unemployment estimated at 28%. To address this issue, efforts have been made through the partnership of community members, NGOs and international funding agencies toward the creation of sustainable rural entrepreneurial activities. Specific emphasis has been placed on the promotion of a niche eco‐tourism product which targets visitors wishing to view the endangered leatherback turtle during the nesting season. In particular, efforts have been made to organise and strengthen the traditional crafts sector in the coastal communities.
The Sustainable Turtle Shake Light was conceived as one product which can be produced by the coastal communities’ artisans for sale to visitors. Many visitors wishing to view nesting turtles often come prepared with their own lighting equipment such as flashlights, cameras and as of recent cell‐phones. These sources of portable light are not safe for viewing nesting turtles since the wavelength of the light they produce is similar to that of natural moonlight, which the turtles rely on for navigation. Furthermore, the light produced by these sources is often a focused, high intensity beam. The combination of the light wavelength and high intensity of these common light sources (especially when used by groups) results in considerable distress to the nesting turtles. The Sustainable Turtle Shake Light is a light source of safe wavelength and intensity which can be produced and distributed by coastal communities.
The following are the user derived benefits (to the community, wildlife and visitors respectively) of the Turtle Shake Light:
- The light source has been specifically designed to be safely used for the viewing of nesting turtles. The emitted light is red and is limited to wavelengths between 590‐750nm.
- The Turtle Shake Light’s power source is a rechargeable supercapacitor which allows for rapid and low‐loss charging, no corrosive electrolyte and low toxicity of materials.
- The charging mechanism for the power source is a form of Green Technology known as Linear Induction Charging. Using a sequence of copper coils and a permanent magnet oriented to create a dynamo, the user is able to generate the electricity necessary for charging the power source without the need to access the AC mains.
Working prototypes have been built and certified as safe for Wildlife Lighting by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.