Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Now there’s an endurance athlete:

Image of Arctic terns by OddurBen, via Wikimedia Commons

With the Beijing 2022 Olympics quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to showcase some extreme animals. Take the Arctic tern (above), for example. These birds hold the record for longest migration. Terns are born during the summer in the Arctic circle and travel all the way to the Antarctic circle every year to spend the summer – a distance of ~30,000 km, talk about a marathon! For comparison, an Olympic marathon is only about 42 km. Amazingly, these birds can live over 30 years…that is A LOT of flight time!!

The reason for their long migration is thought to be related to sunlight. In the winter, the poles of the Earth are pretty dark and cold places. By following sunlight, the birds are able to find food more easily and avoid the harshest conditions. Gliding on the ocean breeze, allows them to conserve energy.


National Geographic

Categories: Diet and Exercise, Exercise, Extreme Animals

Tags: , , , , ,

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