Let’s switch off light pollution for seabirds!

Artificial light can be harmful to birds, particularly nocturnal seabirds, even from long distances. Play your part to help our birds by reducing your light pollution.


DESCRIPTION: An animated video. At night, two seabirds fly along a headland, toward a radiant full moon. As they round a cliff face, they change course and head toward artificial light emanating from buildings along a pier. A broken line measures the distance between the birds and the pier. Text: 15 km.

SPEAKER: Artificial light can be harmful to birds, particularly nocturnal seabirds and shorebirds, even from long distances.

DESCRIPTION: The bright, white glow of artificial light flickers over three tired magpie larks, huddled in a nest. A seabird flies, guided by the moon. The light of a ship’s mast turns on. The bird collides with the mast.

SPEAKER: It can disrupt their sleep, breeding, migration, and cause collisions.

DESCRIPTION: Two birds sleep on the bank of a creek. Bright light pours out from the windows of a nearby home, startling the birds awake. A stalking cat emerges from the tall grass.


SPEAKER: It reduces their ability to forage and can make them vulnerable to predators, particularly fledglings.

DESCRIPTION: A white glow illuminates a flock of flustered seagulls on a rocky outcrop. The seagulls become calm as the light dims.

SPEAKER: To help Australia’s birds, avoid illuminating their feeding and resting areas, or migration pathways.

DESCRIPTION: A flock of seabirds fret as they fly over of a brightly lit pier. The birds settle as the lights of the pier turn amber.

SPEAKER: Reduce light during breeding and migration seasons.

DESCRIPTION: A bird rests under a bright, white light on a ship’s mast. The light turns amber. The bird looks up, then flies toward the light of the moon.

SPEAKER: Limit use of artificial light around jetties, wharves, marinas and at sea.

DESCRIPTION: Two birds pass by an open gate. Beyond the gate, a floodlight above the front door of a home casts a bright, white glow. The floodlight runs off, and a series of low, amber coloured ground lights turn on.

SPEAKER: And use low intensity, appropriate coloured light only where and when you really need.

DESCRIPTION: The seagulls on the rocky outcrop sleep. Another flock of birds fly in the distance.

SPEAKER: Play your part to help our birds by reducing your light pollution.

DESCRIPTION: A URL on screen:  awe.gov.au/light-pollution

SPEAKER: Consult the National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife to find out more about how you can help.

DESCRIPTION: Text on screen reads: Let’s switch off light pollution together. The Commonwealth Coat of Arms Appears above the text: Australian Government - Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

SPEAKER: Let’s switch off light pollution together.


Light pollution kills and injures seabirds

Light pollution disorients seabirds, leading to injury or death

  • Artificial light confuses seabirds, causes collisions, stops seabirds taking off and makes them lose their way.
  • Seabirds use the moon and stars to find their way to the ocean and return to breeding colonies.
  • Artificial lights mask the moon and stars, resulting in birds navigating towards land or vessels.
  • Young birds (fledglings) won’t take their first flight if it never gets dark near their burrow.
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An illustration of seabirds flying over bright lights

Which lights are most harmful?

  • Bright lights stop birds taking off.
  • Floodlights and deck lights cause seabirds to become stranded on vessels at sea.
  • Even distant lights (up to 15km) can disorient fledglings.
  • Lots of collisions and strandings occur around coastal cities and at offshore oil and gas platforms.
  • Amber, red and slow flashing lights are less disruptive than continuous white lighting.

Artificial lights near breeding sites is a major threat to fledgling seabirds

Over 100 species of seabirds occur, visit or breed in Australia. Of these, 69 are listed as threatened and/or migratory under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. A large number of listed species are burrow-breeding birds such as petrels and shearwaters that only return to breeding colonies at night. These species are most at risk from the effects of artificial light.

How you can help

  • Avoid lighting within 3 km of breeding colonies during nesting and fledging periods.
  • If lights are needed, choose low-intensity amber/red lighting.
  • Point all lights downward and away from breeding colonies.
  • Use timers, sensors and dimmers to keep light use to a minimum.
  • Keep night-time gas flares and structure lighting to a minimum on oil and gas platforms.
  • Use curtains and blinds to avoid indoor lights attracting seabirds.