The highly anticipated solar eclipse is coming up on August 21. The last total solar eclipse that was viewable from the contiguous United States took place in February of 1979. While many people have been preparing for backed-up traffic, hiked up hotel prices, and getting off of work, there is another variable that should be taken into consideration.
While the solar eclipse will only last for a few minutes, there is no doubt that it will have an effect on animals. Scientists and researchers have been studying how animals will react and have asked that viewers of the eclipse help with their research.
The reason that the animal kingdom will be affected by the eclipse is simply due to the fact that there will be a temporary twilight that falls across the land. Because animals tend to operate based on the patterns of light, the few minutes of darkness in the middle of the day will cause confusion.
Past eclipse viewers said that when the darkness comes, animals begin acting as though it is night time. Songbirds will become silent, large farm animals will lie down, and crickets will begin to chirp.
Elise Ricard experienced a total eclipse in 2012 and recalled the “eerie silence” that came with it. She said that her back was to the jungle, which is typically overflowing with noise. During those few minutes, however, everything went silent.
Doug Duncan, director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has been researching how animals react to eclipses for years. In the video below, he relays two eclipse experiences he had: one with a group of llamas and one with whales and dolphins.
While animal behavior will be affected by the change, it is not expected to result in a long-term behavior adjustment.
UC Davis’ Joanna Chiu said, “Certain stimuli can overrule normal behavior without affecting an animal’s daily physiological rhythms. It is not surprising that the eclipse will temporarily affect animal behavior, but it is unlikely to affect their internal clock or their behavior in the long run.”
While many researchers are implementing tests during the solar eclipse on fish and birds, the California Academy of Sciences is launching a citizen science experiment, Life Responds, to find out more about how land animals will react.
The app is called iNaturalist and researchers are asking for help from any willing volunteers, even those that are not in the path of totality. Volunteers are asked to make two observations on August 21. The first should be made 30 minutes before the passing, and the second either five minutes before or after. The researchers want to know about every animal but are specifically asking for information about squirrels, bats, owls, domestic dogs, and farm animals.
What do you think about this? Will you participate in the scientific research? How do you think your pet will react? Let us know on Facebook! There are many dangers that come along with viewing a total solar eclipse, and you will want to know the major government warnings that were recently issued.