Lighting The Way
ABOUT THE INSTALLATION
The perfect painting of the olive ridley sea turtle’s life would be set against the backdrop of a dark, uninhabited beach. Light, in a sea turtle’s life, brings both direction and chaos. Beach front lighting helps night owls party, but for baby sea turtles, it is the kiss of death. Artificial lighting on beaches attracts freshly hatched sea turtle hatchlings towards them, causing them to head in the opposite direction away from the sea, leading them to their death.
Lighting the Way is an interactive public installation meant to bring attention to the issue of sea turtle hatchling disorientation. Constructed in the form of a maze, the installation is meant to confuse and disorient visitors as they enter and navigate through it, through the use of mirrors, glass and light sources kept throughout the maze.
ABOUT THE ARTIST/SCIENTIST
Divya Karnad is a geographer and wildlife biologist, who worked with sea turtles for close to ten years. Her research on the types of light that affect the movements of olive ridley turtles in India was the first of its kind, and she has collaborated with various conservation groups to bring about turtle-friendly changes on India’s beaches. She is also interested in larger issues that face marine life and is pursuing a PhD from Rutgers University, USA on the subject of sustainable fisheries. Her interest in marine ecology and conservation has led her to try and engage with the public in many ways, including newspaper articles and now, with Waylon D’Souza and team for SOL.
Waylon James D’Souza is an artist & industrial designer currently doing lighting, interior and landscape design. He has dabbled in animation , permaculture, concept art and illustration. He has graduated from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and studied aquaponics at RMIT, Melbourne. He involves himself in sustainable and conservation ventures, fuelled by his aptitude for design, curiosity and awe for science, and love for nature. His team for this installation: Apoorva Raina, Kalai Vani and Hyacinth Pinto, have been working meticulously on this concept.
Olive Ridley sea turtles are India’s most ubiquitous beach babes. The females come ashore to nest along most of India’s coastline and once they are done, their nests and the babies that hatch out are left to fend for themselves. Baby turtles cope with this rude entry into the world by relying on their instincts to survive. Their first instinct is to find the sea and their source of food, and they do this by looking for light.
A perfectly natural, dark beach has its own mercurial lighting – a silver toned sea, the dark land and white, foam-tipped waves. It is this light that beckons the baby turtle.But light, in a sea turtle’s life, brings both direction and chaos. Beach front lighting helps night owls party, but my research shows that for baby sea turtles, it is the kiss of death. The little babies get mislead into following electric lights, ending up as road-kills, dying of starvation or becoming delicious little hors d’oeuvres for the real nightlife – feral dogs, birds and snakes.
Only small changes have to be made to make beaches turtle and human friendly. Our installation takes on the challenge of not only bring about awareness, but also bringing an actual emotional and sensory experience to a larger audience of different age groups and genres. We want people to experience what turtle hatchings experience and most importantly to facilitate in the implementation of tangible solutions, responsible lifestyles, planning and designing of coastal ‘development ‘ and tourism to nullify the ill-effects of light pollution, which affects the earths ecosystem on a macro level. We will highlight these solutions at the end of our installation.
You can read more about turtles and light at: