LED Lights Brighten Future for Salmon

We all know LED lighting is a great alternative to conventional bulbs. Save energy, cut costs, etc. But have you considered what an LED retrofit might mean for fish?

At the request of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Redding, CA, Multi-lite--an international dynamic and efficient lighting company--became the unlikely protector of salmon running a stretch of the Sacramento River near Turtle Bay. How? The global lighting company’s Luminarc Ilumipanel 180 IP LED wash lights provide more than just ambient lighting for the iconic Sundial Bay Bridge at Turtle Bay, with a utility cost savings.


The Sundial Bridge, appropriately named, with it’s magnificent 217 foot-tall pylon that pierces the sky, is in fact a working sundial. It also happens to span key spawning habitat for salmon. And, though lacking it’s time-keeping capability at night, the Sundial remains lit after dusk.


That’s great for a night stroll across the gigantic sundial, but it’s a big problem for the salmon. The originally installed metal halide lamps cast such a beam that they entirely lit up the water below, revealing loads of spawning salmon to hungry predators. Thousands of salmon were being picked off under the halides, and the city needed a solution.


With a slight twist on lighting innovation, the Luminarc LED wash lights were an ideal choice. These hi-tech LED lamps have something called split-optic control, meaning the fixtures can be dialed in so that only some sections of the bridge receive higher intensity light, while the underside remains reflection free. Throw in complex color mixing of your basic outdoor-rated palette (red, green, blue, white and amber) and you’ve got yourself a lighting solution that looks great and saves salmon. The color options were even identified as providing positive environmental effects for the salmon.


The LED lights also cut energy costs dramatically for the city, upwards of 80%, and the lights won’t need replacement for a decade, whereas the halide fixtures only lasted a few years.


Perhaps, the real conservation story here, though, is that the Sundial Bridge was designed to be integrated with the Sacramento River. The sturdy pylon and stays at each end support the full load of the bridge, so there are no additional interference with river habitat underneath. People can enjoy the stream from above, without disrupting the ecology of the stream. The Sundial Bridge may be one of the largest sundials in the world, placed right over a major river, but this sizable infrastructure promotes a conservation mindset, with its limited footprint, intelligent design and now salmon-safe lights.

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