The Lure of Long Distances: Big Migrations
Posted by Richard Conniff on January 4, 2013
Other species are also spectacular travelers (though they always forget to pack their clothes). Which animal regularly makes the greatest long-distance migration on Earth?
a. The bar-tailed godwit
b. The arctic tern
c. The sooty shearwater
d. The humpback whale
And the answer is:
(b) The Arctic tern takes the prize, with an annual migration of almost 50,000 miles from its breeding grounds in Greenland to the Antarctic shore of the Weddell Sea and back again. On the return flight, the birds actually add hundreds of miles to their journey by looping out over the Atlantic, rather than following a straight line, apparently to take advantage of prevailing winds. Credit for the longest nonstop flight goes to the bar-tailed godwit , which makes a 9-day red eye from Alaska to Australia and New Zealand.