World’s Longest Migration Found to be Twice as Long as Originally Thought
by Mason Inman
The tiny arctic tern makes the longest migration of any animal in the world, flying about two times farther than previously thought, a new study says.
New miniature transmitters recently revealed that the 4-oz (113-g) bird follows zigzagging routes between Greenland and Antarctica each year. In the process, the arctic tern racks up about 44,000 frequent flier miles (71,000 km)—edging out its archrival, the sooty shearwater, by roughly 4,000 mi (6,440 km).
"There have been all kinds of theories, but now, for the first time, we’ve been able to show what the birds are doing out there," said the lead author of the study, Carsten Egevang of the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.
Since the birds often live 30 years or more, the researchers estimate that, over its lifetime, an arctic tern migrates about 1.5 million miles (2.4 million km)—equal to three trips to the moon and back…
(read more: National Geographic)
photograph and maps by Carsten Egevang