Inspiring Bat Conservation Through Photos

4/9/2021

By Teresa Nichta

The Bat Scan Project provides photo documentation, enabling a growing number of conservation projects and exhibits worldwide to share the values of bats. These photos are also heavily used in children’s books, school reports, and in both scientific and popular publications. For example, the Smithsonian’s book, BATS: An Illustrated Guide to All Species, exclusively relied on nearly 400 of Merlin’s photos.

We’re delighted to share a few highlights from recent use.

A Mexican long-tongued bat (Choeronycteris mexicana) pollinating agave flowers (Agave palmeri).
A California leaf-nosed bat (Macrotus californicus) catching a cricket.

The Amazing Pollinators touring exhibit, via Minotaur Mazes, received a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement. It’s like the Academy Awards for the location-based entertainment/experience world (think Disney, Universal Studios). Our photos were used in large and small panels.

This cleverly conceived exhibit sparks interest in the natural world and spurs at-home observation of plants and pollinators. It provides an astounding range of science and nature education in a fun, interactive exhibit that engages all ages to play the game, score points, and learn.

Images from the Amazing Pollinators touring exhibit

The Museum of Jade and Pre-Columbian Culture of Costa Rica produced a new exhibit, Bats, between Myth and Reality, that opened November 19, 2020 and will continue through September 2021. This interdisciplinary exhibit, combining biology and culture, focuses on prevention, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, with an emphasis on environmental protection and conservation.

Images from the exhibition, Bats, between Myth and Reality, at the The Museum of Jade and Pre-Columbian Culture of Costa Rica.

Photo use has steadily increased since the start of the project. However, in early 2020, as more and more people were using the power of positive bat photos to counter negative media speculation, use of our photos doubled. These photos play a key role in countless resources combatting negative and false claims against bats. In 2021 alone, we have already fulfilled over 1,300 photo orders.

We offer highly discounted rates for non-profit, educational use for any project that reduces fear and increases understanding of bat values and needs.

Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus)
Mehely's Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus mehelyi)
In September 2020, many of Merlin’s photos were included in a book published in Chinese titled, “揭秘夜空精灵——蝙蝠”. In English, the title could be translated as: “Uncovering the Secrets of the Night Sky Fairies——Bats.”
 
Premature speculation attributing the COVID pandemic to bats led to widespread intolerance and proposed eradication of Chinese bats. Deeply concerned, bat biologists rushed this book into publication in order to decrease fear and increase appreciation of bats and their values.

At this point in the Bat Scan Project we are editing, captioning, and fact-checking. This is required for all of the 18,000 scanned images, as well as for many of the 77,000 digital images (increasing annually). Providing captions with the most up-to-date taxonomy and information is a huge and never-ending challenge. However, the collection’s scientific authenticity is a key element in its unique value. Despite COVID setbacks and limited resources, progress is being made.

Our goal is to ensure preservation of Dr. Tuttle’s priceless legacy for bats, beginning with the Bat Scan Project, culminating in endowed support that will ensure long-term availability.

Enjoy browsing these photos and sharing with your friends! The power of a positive bat photo is worth 10,000 words! And we’d like to hear your experiences with these photos. If you’ve ever used our photos, please share your experience with us.