Biologically important artificial light at night on the seafloor

Davies, Thomas W. and McKee, David and Fishwick, James and Tidau, Svenja and Smyth, Tim (2020) Biologically important artificial light at night on the seafloor. Scientific Reports, 10 (1). 12545. ISSN 2045-2322 (

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Accelerating coastal development is increasing the exposure of marine ecosystems to nighttime light pollution, but is anthropogenic light reaching the seafloor in sufficient quantities to have ecological impacts? Using a combination of mapping, and radiative transfer modelling utilising in situ measurements of optical seawater properties, we quantified artificial light exposure at the sea surface, beneath the sea surface, and at the sea floor of an urbanised temperate estuary bordered by an LED lit city. Up to 76% of the three-dimensional seafloor area was exposed to biologically important light pollution. Exposure to green wavelengths was highest, while exposure to red wavelengths was nominal. We conclude that light pollution from coastal cities is likely having deleterious impacts on seafloor ecosystems which provide vital ecosystem services. A comprehensive understanding of these impacts is urgently needed.