24 January 2010

Guinness migrations

Speaking about the ‘Guinness World Records’ I thought grey whales (Eschrichtius robustus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) were the animal with the longest migration ever recorded, with approximately 16,000-20,000 jm on their annual journey.

But I had failed to consider the avian world and so, I was completely wrong.

A recent study found out that a little bird weighing less than 125 gr, the Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea), is the winner in this "competition".

Thanks to tiny devices attached to 11 Arctic terns, researchers were able to track their routes and find out exactly where they went during a full-year of migration. From the breeding to the wintering grounds and back again, travelling between 280 and 670 km per day, they did a pole-to-pole migration totalling 70,900 km!

Never overlook a tiny little bird!

Silvia Bonizzoni

Photo: Geolocation tracks of 11 Arctic terns, from the Egevan et al. article.

Egevang C., Stenhouse I.J., Phillips R.A., Petersen A., Fox J.W., Silk J.R.D. 2009. Tracking of Arctic terns Sterna paradisaea reveals longest animal migration. PNAS. 4pp.

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