Artificial Lights At Night Affect Underwater Life

First Global Atlas Reveals How Deep Artificial Light at Night Goes Underwater

Because of shore development and its heavily populated coastal cities, the Persian Gulf was one of the areas with the most light pollution. Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory/Smyth, T.J et al. (2021)

by Elizabeth Gamillo/

By 2060, it is estimated that coastal populations will more than double, bringing more artificial light at nighttime to previously dark areas near the shore. From raising blood sugar and heart rates in humans to confusing hatching sea turtles, light pollution has been shown to disrupt various coordinated biological functions in marine organisms.

In a new global map of oceanic light pollution, researchers have outlined large regions of the ocean that are illuminated by “artificial light at night,” or ALAN. The light, mostly produced by urban coastlines and offshore oil complexes, is strong enough to brighten deep into coastal waters, possibly altering behaviors of sea creatures thriving in darkness, reports Carolyn Gramling for Science News.

The study’s findings show how far light pollution can touch the ocean’s depths and which marine species are the most likely to experience a biological response. Details of the map were published in Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene in December 2021.

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