Discovering a new side to fruit bats

Bat flying in tree canopy

Like most of the 1,400 species of bats, Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettus aegyptiacus) are nocturnal, sleeping during the day and hunting at night. But in Tel Aviv, you can spot a rare phenomenon: these bats flying around in broad daylight.

As part of my ongoing efforts to photograph them, I headed to a local mulberry tree one May afternoon and waited patiently for this pregnant bat to finish her meal. I wanted to capture her majestic flight between the sun-dappled treetops.

I’m not the only one who’s taken with the animals. In 2020, researchers at Tel Aviv University contacted me; they’d noticed that in some of my photos the bats appeared to be smiling—a telltale sign they were echolocating. The researchers hypothesized—then proved through experiments—that despite having excellent vision, these diurnal bats use their eyes and echolocation during the daytime to navigate the city.

Unfortunately, bats don’t have a great reputation, especially as an animal often implicated in zoonotic diseases. By capturing the bats’ movements in the air, I aim to show their grace and sweetness, giving viewers a new perspective while encouraging more research on these unique creatures.

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