Light Pollution a Problem for Rare Seabirds in Malta

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Light Pollution a Problem for Rare Seabirds in Malta

Post by Praesepe »

Malta has around 10% of the world’s population of Yelkouan (Lvantine) Shearwaters, a seabird that nests in cliffs around the island. The findings of a new report show that light pollution on the islands is increasingly becoming a problem and has been driving the shearwaters out of their nesting sites.

The report was carried out by project partners Helen Raine (BirdLife Malta) and John J. Borg (Heritage Malta) and focused on assessing light pollution near the shearwater colonies in the cliffs, particularly at the project site of Rdum tal-Madonna, L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha. It also suggests simple, practical ways to reduce this modern scourge.

Promenades & Hotels a Problem
The greatest offenders in terms of light pollution were found to be the globe lights that have been installed along many promenades, as well as over-illumination, where multiple rows of streets lights, globe lights and spot lights are unnecessarily installed in the same space. Hotel facades were also found to be a problem. The project will now be working with MEPA, local councils, residents and business owners and advising them on how to reduce the most serious sources of light pollution.

Light Pollution Problems
Light pollution is an issue for shearwaters because when the young birds leave the nest, bright lights dazzle them and draw them to land (where they collide with buildings) instead of out to sea for fishing. The BirdLife office receives several injured shearwaters every year. The nesting sites of the seabirds are also affected by light pollution. Birds have been known to desert their nests even if one or two electric lights are installed nearby, so major developments have seriously reduced the amount of nesting habitat available shearwaters.

Project Manager Helen Raine said, ‘Light pollution is a very serious problem in Malta for shearwaters and other species. We need the government to start taking this seriously. Incredibly, there are currently no regulations or official guidelines to control light pollution and consequently inappropriate and damaging lighting is still being installed. New legislation and enforcement is urgently required for future developments as well as consideration of how to reduce the current levels of light in Malta. We call upon the government to ensure that this happens.’

The EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project launched the report on light pollution in Malta which looks at the negative effect of light pollution on Malta’s seabird population.

For more information, please visit our project website ... 20Malta%2E
Many a night I saw the Pleiades , rising thro' the mellow shade , glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid

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