A small seabird endemic to Aotearoa appears to be the worst affected by light pollution in Auckland’s CBD, research has found.
From data collected by Birdcare Aotearoa, University of Auckland PhD student Ariel-Micaiah Heswall mapped where 356 seabirds, apparently disoriented by light, crash-landed over a four-year period from 2018 to 2021.
The findings have been published in the journal PeerJ.
The research described the Cook’s petrel (tītī) as the worst-affected species – 247 grounded – but others affected included the grey-faced petrel (ōi), black petrel (tāiko), Buller’s shearwater (rako), fluttering shearwater (pakahā), common diving petrel (kuaka), white-faced storm petrel (takahikare) and sooty shearwater (tītī). They are all either native or endemic to Aotearoa.
It also found the greater the light pollution, the greater likelihood of groundings.
The Sky Tower and the city centre were found to be hotspots for deaths and injuries, but other places where the seabirds were found included Kohimarama Beach, Mission Bay, Titirangi’s Opou Reserve and Waiuku’s Kitchener Rd. Browns Bay, Piha, Muriwai and Bethells Beach were also mentioned.
Twelve seabirds were grounded around the Sky Tower over the four-year period.
Due to the seabirds’ migration patterns, April was found to be the worst month for groundings.