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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 12, 2010

ARCTIC TERNS ARE WORLD'S MOST TRAVELED CREATURES

Steve Connor, Independent, UK - A sea bird famous for its long-distance migrations between the North and South Poles makes the equivalent of three round trips to the Moon in its lifetime, scientists have found.

The Arctic tern makes a return trip of around 44,000 miles from pole to pole each year, flying between its breeding grounds in Greenland in the north and the Weddell Sea on the shores of Antarctica in the far south, in a lifetime spent in perpetual summer.

Small tracking devices attached to the terns' legs have allowed their movements to be monitored in more detail than ever before. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey found that the birds do not immediately head south from Greenland, but first spend almost a month at sea, in the middle of the North Atlantic, before continuing down the coast of north-west Africa.

Around the Cape Verde Islands, the researchers were surprised to find that about half the birds carried on south along the African coast while the rest crossed the Atlantic to follow a parallel route down the east coast of South America.

All the terns studied escaped the northern winter by flying to Antarctic waters, where it is summer at that time of year. On the return trip, they again did not take the shortest route, but traced a giant 'S' shape

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