Saturday, September 6, 2014


Why Should We Care?
Asian Elephants in Thailand Copyright M.Raeder-Photography

Brilliant 4 Minute Animation Will Convince Anyone why it’s Important to Protect Big Animals…Like Elephants

produced by

Elephants are great, right? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who cringes at the sound of the word “elephant,” because frankly, these gentle giants are not only super cool and interesting, they’re also irresistibly adorable. Really the whole package for a creature we should want to protect…or so you would think.
Turns out not everyone on the planet is such a huge fan of elephants, or maybe they are–they’re just more concerned with the economic value of that elephant, than it’s intrinsic value as part of its native ecosystem. Elephants across Asia and Africa are being put in critical danger of extinction due to aggressive poaching related to the illegal ivory trade. While it may seem like a far off problem to those of us located in North America, the disappearance of elephants gradually impacts all life on Earth…making it our problem.
So, let’s say, for example, you live in Nebraska–why in the world would you need to take an interest in the protection of elephants? Saying “because we’re all connected” just doesn’t seem to do this point justice, so check out this video for the real science behind why you should care. If you don’t care “because we’re all connected,” maybe you will care because, well…”science.” P.s. it’s not just elephants, but all big animals too!
I hope you enjoyed the video.  It really brings the importance of biodiversity home.  And let's not forget the same issues a prevelant wherever the habitat of wildlife is lost!
Til next time, Meggi
Elephants in the savanna in Tanzania, Copyright M.Raeder-Photography

Monday, August 18, 2014

Golden Gate Under Low Clouds

Golden Gate shrouded in low-hanging summer clouds

The best laid plans....

It was supposed to be an evening with great night photography at the Golden Gate during the blue hour, Palace of Fine Art and later at the Bay Bridge to see the moon rising in the late evening.  I had made these plans for an out-of-town visitors to whom I already explained that the city experiences more of a winter cold wind and fog during our summer days.  As I drove up on 280, the ominous clouds were unmistakable in the early afternoon pushing in from the ocean over the sunset district of the city.  From the high point at Divisadero, the business district was bathed in sunshine with only puffy clouds making it that far into the Bay.  As the afternoon proceeded the low cloud overcast pushed more and more over the city and into the Bay.

View through the North Tower from Battery Spencer

I hadn't been on Hawks Hill on a Saturday late afternoon in August - and the vista points along the road were not just packed but there was chaos on the road with the parking lots overloaded.  Walking up to Spencer Battery, we were greeting by fierce wind funneling into the Bay.  The tip of the Golden Gate towers previously still visible were progressively swallowed in clouds with more fog rolling in.  Timing our arrival before sunset, any hopes to catch the blue hour with the light coming on were blown in the wind or swallowed in fog!

It was time for alternative options!  By now the cloud cover extended pretty much all the way into the bay and maybe Fort Baker on the East side of the bridge would give us a better view.  Sandwiches, hot tea and granola bars bridged the time until the light fell.

Golden Gate shrouded under a low cloud ceiling

With all the moisture in the air, the warm colors of the night were reflected in the water.

Next alternate stop was the Palace of Fine Art with its reflection pond that invites any night photographer to stop and linger.

Palace of Fine Art

Forgetting moon rise at the Bay Bridge (!) our next stop was at the Legion of Honors.  I had photographed there in the past and experienced a nice reflection in the pond, but tonight the fountain was going giving us a different experience.

Legion of Honor

Horse and Rider Sculpture at the Legion of Honor

As midnight approached, I bid good bye to my friends.  Although I had planned quite a different evening the city of course offers many wonderful sights during the day and the night, and  I was happy that we captured some nice images at these alternate locations.

By now, Bill and Russ are back in the Midwest, but I am sure they will come back during the winter time when the skies are clear and we again can go out, and this time hopefully can capture the Golden Gate in 'better light" during the blue hour and into the night.

Until then, happy travel wherever your journey takes you!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wild Horse Roundup

Wild Horse and Mustang Roundup by BLM

Here is the latest news in the struggle to keep the wild horses and mustangs on the open public land in the West.  In the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada, BLM just rounded up 124 wild horses in one day.  Once it is all over, more than 400 wild horses and mustangs will be removed and this is the end of wild horses in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.  Please read the report below published by Return to Freedom, a wild horse and mustang refuge in California.

Here is how the US Fish and Wildlife Services summarize the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge as follows:  []

The Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada, protects more than half a million acres of high desert habitat for large wintering herds of pronghorn antelope, scattered bands of bighorn sheep, and a rich assortment of other wildlife. The landscape is vast, rugged, and punctuated with waterfalls, narrow gorges, and lush springs among rolling hills and expansive tablelands of sagebrush and mountain mahogany. Elevations on the refuge range from 4,100 to 7,200 feet. Annual precipitation rarely amounts to more than a dozen inches, creating a harsh environment where a wide variety of wildlife manages to thrive. Although established for the protection of wildlife and habitat, the refuge encompasses other interesting features. The remains of old homesteads and ranches intrigue visitors. The lure of fire opals draws miners and rock collectors to the Virgin Valley mining district. Geothermal hot springs create a refreshing oasis in the heart of the refuge. The refuge's mosaic of resources and public interests generates significant management challenges.

Latest update: July 14, 2014  -
I wonder whether the update already took out the wild horses in anticipation of this cruel roundup?

          photo: Steve Paige                                      

Mobile Users Click Link Below
"This wild horse was put down at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge on Aug 11, 2014 after being rounded from beyond the distant horizon. It was then pushed for miles by a team of helicopters on a injured leg."
- Steve Paige, reporting from the Sheldon Roundup
August 14, 2014
Return to Freedom Wild Horse Ranger Steve Paige is on site to bear witness to the Sheldon Roundup. The end of an era is ushered out by the deafening sound of the helicopter and the thundering hooves of panicked horses.
​In the first two days, 124 horses were rounded up and chased into traps to be sorted and separated, the beginning of the end of for these horses. Before its over, over 400 wild horses -- all that remain on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge -- will be gone. 
"Sheldon FWS managers have for years experimented with permanent sterilization on the horses there - they could have let those horses live out their lives on the Refuge. At one point they had decided to manage 150 horses there. Now none . . . all gone, another vital link to our living history wiped out" laments Return to Freedom Founder Neda DeMayo. "I look at our Sheldon herd - the 50 horses we took from the 2000 roundup - and I know that they are safe because of our work, but their wild relatives are not and that breaks my heart" DeMayo continues.
Here we see a noble bay stallion on the outside, trying to keep his family in tact in the midstof the chaos. His effort will be futile in the end. And though we worked to make sure that unscrupulous horse traders would not get their hands on the Sheldon horses, we cannot be certain of their fate. 
This cruel disposal of our wildlife has to end! Please stand with us and help us fight these senseless roundups. 
Support Our Advocacy Work and help us fight to keep wild horses IN THE WILD!
Become a Member and help us feed and care for the horses we've rescued from past roundups.
Our voice is being heard in Wyoming! The BLM has delayed its Wyoming Roundup due to pressure from our lawsuit. We await the court's decision in this precedent setting case!

Return to Freedom is dedicated to protecting the freedom, diversity and habitat of America's wild horses through sanctuary, education, and conservation while enriching the human spirit through direct connection with the natural world.

It saddens me to file this report and to see the demise of the beautiful wild horses 
in yet another area of the West.


Here is a way to visit wild horses at Return to Freedom:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wild Horses in the West

Last Light of the Day

The Battle over the Freedom of the Wild Horses in the West

News from Return to Freedom - Wild Mustang Sanctuary

A battle is raging in the west . . . America's wild horses are caught in the middle of greed, politics and fierce competition to lay claim to our natural resources and public lands. 
—  We're Bringing The Fight To Washington —

Return to Freedom Brings the Voice of the Public To Congress

Today will be much like any other day for Hopi - a Navajo stallion who was sold for ten cents a pound for his meat when we found him. That almost fatal day is long behind him and today, like yesterday, he will enjoy the companionship of his herd mates, the freedom to stretch his powerful legs as he gallops across the rolling hills of the sanctuary. He will have food and clean water and nothing or no one will threaten his life, his family or his home. That is the promise of the sanctuary. This safe haven that we work so hard to provide is only possible with your support. Thank you.

But 3000 miles away,our Founder Neda DeMayo will be leading a group of advocates through the halls of Congress today. Young and old alike have come from around the country as part of our Wild Horse Rangers program. This program provides members of the public with the education, information and direct experience they need to advocate effectively for our wild horses. The voice of the American people is what led to the creation of the 1971 Wild Horses and Burros Act. The act has been systematically dismantled over the years by special interest and corporate ranchers who want our public lands for their own profit. We're not going to stand by and let that happen. Today - our voices will be heard. And we won't stop here. We will keep lobbying Congress, attending roundups, and being the first line of defense against all that threatens our horses.  

Wild Horse Rangers is part of RTF's Advocacy In Action program designed to empower the public to advocate effectively for America's wild horses.

You can visit Return to Freedom and learn about the fate of the wild horse and mustangs in the West by joining me for a great Photo Tour  on August 23-24, 2014.  The wild mustangs are in the cross-hair of big ranching business, the BLM and other mining corporations who want the public land for their exploitation.

All details for the Photo Tour here.

Til next time, 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Barn Owl as Rodent Control

Barn Owl [M.Raeder-Photography]

Barn Owl as Rodent Control

In one of my recent Nature TidBits on April 24, 2014, I focused on the Monarch, a migratory butterfly, and how the extensive use of pesticides, specifically neonicotinoids [e.g. Roundup] has destroyed the monarch’s Milkweed habitat adjacent to mono-culture farms in the Midwest by 60%.  As a consequence, these beautiful butterflies have declined in numbers by 80%.  Butterflies and well as bees and other insects are pollinators and their decline directly effects the production of vegetable, fruits and nuts.  You might have heard of the devastating honey bee Colony Collapsing Disease that was identified in ~2004 and after much research and detective work, here too the neonicotinoids are the culprit.  Farmers say they need to use the pesticides to increase the yield of their crops, specifically those grown in monoculture.  Yet, 30% of our food needs to be pollinated by bees and insects to produce it.  So are we destroying the very mechanism that is necessary for food production?  There is an excellent documentary “Vanishing Bees” that tells the story of this honey bee crisis. 

Sometimes it feels there is no good news out there. 

But today I want to share two hopeful stories that show that there are ways to combat pests in a natural way:

One comes from Israel where the introduction of barn owls and kestrels has lead to the natural elimination of rodents that can destroy the harvest if unchecked.  The heavy use or rodendicites previously had almost eradicated the natural predators.  About 10 years ago, the barn owl was introduced again in Israel.  The excellent documentary “The Use of Barn Owls and Kestrels as Biological Control Agents” tells the remarkable journey to environmental-friendly farming and is very informative and worth watching.  These 2 voracious rodent predators work 24 hours a day:  the owls hunt at night and the kestrel by day and together they are eradicating thousands of crop destroying rodents!

The second story comes from the UK where 2014 turns out to be a highly successful year for the barn owls.  The British Trust for Ornithology estimates there are about 4,000 breeding pairs of barn owls in the UK helping to naturally reduce rodents in the farming areas.

The use of Barn Owls and Kestrels as Biological Control Agent

This film won first prize in the expert and instructive films category at the Agrofilm Festival held in 2011 at Nitra, Slovakia.
This award-winning film was produced by Yuval Dax.


Barn owl bumper brood in Cambridgeshire celebrated - UK

Conservationists are celebrating after barn owls nesting at a Cambridgeshire farm hatched twice as many chicks as this time last spring. Three pairs of birds at Lark Rise farm have produced 17 chicks in total and may have a second brood this summer. The UK barn owl population was hit badly last year after a late spring.
[left image: Photo Credit Amir Ezer]

Vince Lea, from The Countryside Restoration Trust which runs the farm, said the brood was “the biggest ever” in the 12 years since the owls arrived.
“We had no owls in this area for a long time, then eventually they started to nest and generally we’d have about three chicks per pair each year,” he said.
“These record-breaking numbers of barn owl chicks are a direct result of the trust’s wildlife-friendly farming methods.  "The increase was “astonishing evidence of a comeback”, he added.
Meadows, grass margins and hedgerows had “helped create an ideal barn owl habitat”, Mr Lea said, as well as encouraging other wildlife including water voles – “their favorite snack” to the area.
Dead voles had been found stored in one of the three nesting boxes on the 450-acre (182 hectares) arable farm near Cambridge, which Mr Lea said was proof of an abundance of that species on the farm.
Double the number of chicks have been born at the farm compared to 2013.  But Colin Shawyer, from the Barn Owl Conservation Network, which monitors the species, said 2013 had been “an exceptionally poor breeding year”.    "Lark Rise’s brood is most definitely a sign that 2014 is going to be a good one for barn owls.   Two of the females have not gone into molt yet, which is a good sign they will attempt a second brood,” he said.
The British Trust for Ornithology estimates there are about 4,000 breeding pairs of barn owls in the UK, and lists their conservation status as “amber” indicating the species is, or has recently been, in decline.
This article was first published by BBC News Cambridgeshire.

Til next time,

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Elephants-Keystone Species for Survival

I came across the below article by Lauren Shuttleworth of the Project Elephant and it is an excellent summary why we need to fight for the survival of the elephant, a keystone species.  Please read below how important the elephants are as ecosystems engineers:

 " In the African savannah, elephants push over and strip trees, making way for a plethora of grass species. The grass feeds the grazing herbivores such as zebra, antelope and buffalo, which in turn feed the carnivores, such as lions and leopards. Asian elephants and African Forest elephants are hugely important for seed dispersal, as they eat the fruit of various pant species and ‘deposit’ it across vast distances."

However the threats to their survival are numerous from habitat loss to poaching for ivory.

The excellent article below shows that the consequences of extinction of the elephants are wide ranging and impact our own survival.

Thank you to all of my readers for your interest and for helping making the planet a better world for all.

Til next time, 


Why Saving the Elephants Could Save the World

 by Lauren Shuttleworth;  Project Elephant

If the current rates of population decline continue, 
elephants will be lost from the wild within 12 years. 
A world without elephants is not one we want to live on!

I should probably begin this post by confessing that I am a huge animal lover (surprise!).
I care deeply about the welfare and conservation of all species, and believe that we should be invested in their protection simply because it is the right and just thing to do. Considering that human activity has contributed almost exclusively to endangerment, I think we have a moral responsibility to step up and take action. But outside of that, there are some key reasons as to why the preservation of particular species is seriously important. And in my somewhat biased opinion, one of the most significant of these animals is the elephant. The impact they have on the environment, national economies, international security and even the human spirit is so large that it has to be said; if we can save the elephants, we might just save the world. Here’s how:

Elephants are a Keystone Species, playing the role of Ecosystem Engineers.
To borrow the trusty Wikipedia definition, ‘a keystone species is a species that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance’. Basically, they play a critical role in the creation and survival of their ecosystem. And considering that elephants span across the African and Asian continents, we’re talking about a pretty large ecosystem indeed.

In the hierarchy of keystone species, elephants score the pretty cool job title of ‘Ecosystem Engineers’. In the African savannah, elephants push over and strip trees, making way for a plethora of grass species. The grass feeds the grazing herbivores such as zebra, antelope and buffalo, which in turn feed the carnivores, such as lions and leopards. Asian elephants and African Forest elephants are hugely important for seed dispersal, as they eat the fruit of various pant species and ‘deposit’ it across vast distances. In one study, it was found that elephants dispersed seeds over 57km, whereas most animals will just spread seeds a few hundred meters away from the source. This ensures the diversity and health of many of the world’s largest rainforests, which in turn are responsible for stabilising the climate of the ENTIRE WORLD. So elephants can pretty much add ‘Climate Change Superheros’ to their resume.

Eco-Tourism is a really, really big industry.
As outlined above, elephants are pretty essential to the health of their ecosystems. Without them, many other flora and fauna species would suffer – if not altogether perish. It’s easy to see the effect this would have on the eco-tourism industry, considering that millions of tourists travel to places in Africa and Asia each year, entirely for the purpose of viewing animals in the wild and experiencing the wonders of nature. In Africa, the eco-tourism industry is said to be worth some 50 billion dollars – hugely significant for many national economies and local communities. The Kenyan government has been particularly vocal about the economic impact of ivory poaching, claiming it threatens over 300,000 jobs alone.

Ivory poaching is funding terrorist organisations and international crime networks.
I’ve spoken before about the ties between ivory poaching and terrorist organizations and international criminal syndicates. The Somalia-based wing of Al-Qaeda raises $600,000 a month from poaching to fund its activities, as does Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army – the Ugandan rebel group notorious for abducting and enslaving children. Boko Haram – the group responsible for the recent kidnapping of 234 school girls in Nigeria – has also been explicitly identified as receiving funding from the ivory trade. A kilogram of ivory will sell for as much as $2,200 on the black market, and with a pair of bull tusks weighing around 120kg on average, that’s a hell of a lot of money. Chinese mafia organizations mostly do the buying and distributing of ivory once it has been obtained. If we can focus on putting an end to the demand of ivory through increased education and awareness in the Chinese market, as well as heighted protection in Africa, we would in turn dry up a significant portion of the funding for some of the world’s most notorious criminals.

Elephants hold a pretty special and powerful place in our hearts.
As our largest and perhaps most iconic land animal, elephants are revered across the world. Elephants are one of a handful of animals considered a flagship species, meaning they play an important role in promoting universal conservation awareness and engagement. By focusing on the protection of flagship species, organizations such as WWF are able conserve many other ‘umbrella’ species which share the same habitat or are vulnerable to similar threats. Additionally, it is the intelligence and human-like emotion of elephants that builds an important bridge of understanding for many people. Being able to relate to the social bonds and interactions of elephant brings an awareness that ALL animals are of importance, and that there right to live on this earth is as deserving and necessary as our own.

Published by Project Elephant

Sunday, June 8, 2014

World Ocean Day 2014

Celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8, 2014

World Oceans Day is June 8 — it’s a time to celebrate the oceans and take steps to protect ocean health. Why celebrate the oceans? Whether you live on the coast or inland, we are all intimately connected to the oceans. The organizers of this year’s event are asking people to help spread awareness by taking a Selfie for the Sea. If you live near a beach, take a photograph of yourself cleaning it. Even if you don’t, try a selfie with a written promise to engage in an ocean-friendly activity. Post your photo to social media with the hashtag #WorldOceansDay.

Not into selfies? Just wear blue to celebrate the day!

A sticky-note stop animation made by one of our young World Oceans Day fans! 
Please share this World Oceans Day 2012 Sticky Note Stop Motion video.

Why celebrate Earth’s oceans at all? Whether you live near a coast, or not, we are all intimately connected with the oceans. Here are some of the ways:
  • Oceans cover 71% of Earth’s surface, and they hold 97% of our planet’s water.
  • The oceans help feed us and provide most of the oxygen that we breathe.
  • Oceans also play a key role in regulating the weather and climate. Water evaporating from the oceans falls inland as rain, which we then use to drink and grow crops.
  • A variety of life saving medicinal compounds including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer drugs have been discovered in the oceans.
  • The oceans provide us with abundant opportunities for recreation and inspiration.

The theme for this year’s World Oceans Day is:
Together we have the power to protect the ocean.
Threats to the oceans include pollution, overfishing, invasive species, and rising ocean acidity due to the extensive use of fossil fuels. While these are indeed daunting problems, there are simple steps that you can to take to help protect the ocean.
For example, always recycle and use reusable water bottles and grocery bags to help reduce plastic pollution. You can reduce your carbon footprint by turning off lights and appliances when they are not in use and purchasing energy efficient products in the future. Making sustainable seafood choices is one of the most important things you can to do protect marine life, and there are now sustainable seafood guides available for many countries around the world.

Canada first proposed the concept for World Oceans Day in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. In December 2008, a United Nations resolution designated June 8 of each year as World Oceans Day.

Visit: to learn more about this global day of celebration for our ocean!

[Ref: Also Published by EarthSky on Ocean Day, June 8, 2014 -]

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Astro-Landscape Images - 2014

Yosemite National Park under Moonlight

Astro-Landscape [Night] Photography

Clouds Rising into the Dark Night Sky

As many of you know astro-landscape photography has become my latest passion in my photography.  Finding an interesting landscape composition and capturing the night sky over it - either at new moon or with some moon illumination - can feel like a treasure hunt.  There are many variables that have to come together to ultimately yield a successful image.

In my last blog I described the ‘vanishing’ dark sky areas in the United States, particularly in the Eastern parts of the country and showed the difference in how many stars we can see when we are under a dark sky.  In my latest experience when rafting the Grand Canyon in early May, it was so gratifying seeing the millions of stars overhead despite the moon illuminating the canyon walls.  The capture of a strong meteor – looking like a fireball – was an extra bonus.

Night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the Colorado River with a meteor streaking over the sky (composite of 4 images) May 8, 2014

As city dwellers or suburbanites, light pollution only let’s us see the brightest stars.  Even in rural areas the sparse light will have and effect on how many stars we can observe.  The image depicts the number of stars that can be seen in the Inner City (panel on left side) vis-a-vis Subarban Sky (middle) and Excllent Dark Sky (Right).

We are loosing more and more dark sky in our environment and as described in my last blog, this can have a detrimental effect on wildlife - besides loosing the beauty overhead.

In my pursuit of beautiful night images, I have used an app to find ‘dark sky’ areas (Search in iTunes for "Dark Sky" App) and have traveled quite a bit to find them.  Today, I want to share some of newer images with you in my Nature TidBits.

So scroll down and enjoy:

Yosemite National Park under full Moon (panorama towards Yosemite Falls)

Reflection of the stars with a faint milky way, Mt Bachelor,  Bend, Oregon

Milky Way over Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park, Southern CA
with Venus rising at around 4 am in March 2014

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur Coast, CA

Later that night as the fog rolled in around 2am, the light became diffuse softening the car lights coming around the corner from the south.

Moonlight on the ocean near Pigeon Point, CA [May 2014]

Pigeon Point under a half moon, CA

Moonbow over Yosemite Falls - this resembles a rainbow only created by the moon!

'Reaching Out' to Polaris, the North Star at the Patriarch Grove, Bristlecone Forest, CA

Milky Way over the San Gabriel Mountains, CA [May 2014]

Capturing the Aurora under the northern sky outside Fairbanks, Alaska - 
playing to create 'imploding stars' [March 2014]

Although I mostly eliminate man-made structures from my images,  they can add interesting elements:

Loop-di-doo over San Francisco, CA

While photographing star-trails over the Golden Gate Bridge one winter night, I turned around and pointed my camera towards the city to see what a time-lapse would capture.  The resulting composite shows the air traffic over the city with a helicopter showing up as the red-dotted line.

Heavy air traffic leaving San Francisco International airport on a winter night is shown in the next image:

Airplanes leaving San Francisco International [with a southern star trail arch in the sky].

... and of course the ever present cell towers on mountain tops - new beacons of red lights dotting the landscape.

Beacons of red light under the northern star trails.

I want to close with a beautiful image captured in Arches National Park, Utah:  

Star trails in the Northern Sky over the Double Arch Bridge

Utah and the red rock country has captured my heart and I know I will travel there again.  There are so many wonderful places, and a lot of Utah is still enjoying beautiful dark sky.  Many more opportunities of capturing astro-landscape images await.  Soon I will put on my traveling shoes and one of my next road trips will lead me back there.

In the meantime,  I hope you enjoyed the journey under the dark sky.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dark Sky-Effect of Light Pollution on Wildlife

In Search of Dark Sky  -  
The Effect of Light Pollution on Nature and Wildlife

I am drawn to the night!

Yes, it can be tiring, it can be scary to be out alone in darkness and
my vigilance is heightened as I listen to the sounds of the night.

But the silence also lets me reflect on many issues as I wait for my camera
to capture the night landscape under a brilliant sky and moon.

There is beauty in the night.

Unfortunately, as city dwellers and suburbanites we mostly don’t see the millions of stars overhead since light pollution blocks out what the Universe has to offer. 

Tracking light pollution over the last ~60 years, the below image shows how much light has been added to the landscape by cities and even rural areas.  And check out the projections for 2025 – dark sky will almost vanish in most of the US sky. 

When we zoom into the Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area, it’s hard to find areas of ‘dark sky’ where we may observe the movement of the stars and gaze at the milky way.

The next image shows how much we are missing in light polluted areas (left side) and how many stars and planet are visible without light pollution (right side).

Light Pollution and its Effect on Nature and Wildlife

But light pollution does not only hinder us to see the stars, it also has a profound effect on nature and wildlife.  

We all have seen how moth and insects are drawn to light even to their death by an open flame.  

It confuses baby turtles that are programmed to run towards the light, but that light often comes from hotels and parking lots, rather than reach the ocean to start their long life.  Below is a graph that depicts the confused wondering of loggerhead hatchlings.  They may never reach the water or their prolonged path may result in more hatchlings loosing their lives to predators prior to reaching the ocean. 

Tracks of disoriented loggerhead (Caretta caretta) hatchlings, Melbourne Beach, Florida. 
Photograph by Blair E. Witherington.

It has been found that frogs that mate at night will seize to mate in areas of light pollution. 

It is known that big cities with their bright high-rises and reflecting glass will draw migrating birds from their ancient migration routes and they perish.

Here is a quote from Bart Kempenaers of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany:  
"In comparison to chemical and noise pollution, light pollution is more subtle, and its effects have perhaps not received the attention they deserve," said Bart Kempenaers. "Our findings show clearly that light pollution influences the timing of breeding behavior, with unknown consequences for bird populations." It is these unknown consequences over the long term that needs to be understood.

And unfortunately the list goes on and on with lots of information available with a quick search on the web. 
But what can be done?  We all have responsibilities to take care of the planet Earth and we all can become more cognizant of how our actions influence our environment.  Just as example: Turning off outside lights when we go to bed at night, installing lights that are directed downwards and that are on automatic shut-off when not necessary, supporting city street lights that are minimizing light pollution; these are all small but important contributions to the bigger issue.  

I would like to conclude with a very informative video:  ‘Our Vanishing Night’ by AstroGirlWest 

“Light pollution: its real, destructive consequences are seldom recognized, but it is a problem with easy solutions that make economic sense. All living creatures rely on the Earth's regular rhythm of day and night to regulate internal cycles. Many use the protection of darkness to safely forage and mate. We exist in a balance with our environment, a delicate balance that we are shifting. In the process we are also losing our connection to the night sky and the universe beyond.”

Til next time,