[WATCH] Birds left stranded due to increase in light pollution across Malta

Record 24 stranded Scopoli’s Shearwaters recovered by general public in 2018, indicating worrying effects of an increase in the levels of light pollution across the island

The stranded birds are fledglings, young birds that have left the nest on their maiden flight and become disoriented by bright lights from coastal developments and towns
The stranded birds are fledglings, young birds that have left the nest on their maiden flight and become disoriented by bright lights from coastal developments and towns

24 stranded Scopoli’s Shearwaters were recovered and successfully released back to sea in 2018, thanks to an increase in public support, BirdLife said.

The NGO said that a record 24 stranded Scopoli’s Shearwaters were recovered in 2018, five times more than the previous year, indicating worrying effects of an increase in the levels of light pollution across the Island.

“These stranded birds are fledglings, young birds that have left the nest on their maiden flight and become disoriented by bright lights from coastal developments and towns, resulting in them becoming stranded on land. This year, most stranded shearwaters were found at Ħal Far and the Freeport in Malta, and Victoria and Xlendi in Gozo which are the areas with a high level of light pollution.”

Light pollution occurs as a result of poorly installed lights, excessive illumination of structures and inefficient directing of light
Light pollution occurs as a result of poorly installed lights, excessive illumination of structures and inefficient directing of light

The trend was also seen in the record number of Stranded Yelkouan Shearwaters earlier in the year. The grounded shearwaters are said to be extremely vulnerable to predation, collusion with vehicles, and dehydration, making light-induced stranding’s a leading cause of morality among young birds.

The NGO praised the increase in public awareness generated through the LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija project about stranded shearwaters, which it says contributed to more birds being rescued and safely released back out to sea.

“Light pollution occurs as a result of poorly installed lights, excessive illumination of structures and inefficient directing of light. Once famed for its pristine night skies, Malta is now the 17th worst light-polluted country on earth relative to population size.”

According to a recently revised Atlas of Artificial Night-Sky Brightness, the Milky Way is visible now from only 11% of the island. Levels of light pollution are expected to increase as new developments opt for more energy efficient white-light LEDs which can cause up to twice as much light population as the yellow-light that was previously traditionally used for outdoor lighting.

According to a recently revised Atlas of Artificial Night-Sky Brightness, the Milky Way is visible now from only 11% of the Island
According to a recently revised Atlas of Artificial Night-Sky Brightness, the Milky Way is visible now from only 11% of the Island

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