Monday, December 11, 2006

It's a small world after all

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Scientists at the Census of Marine Life are using a new device to track the migration pattern of Sooty Shearwaters via satellites. The above image is the result. Here is a video (linky) where you can watch the migratory patterns of 19 birds. Research like this shows the need for international cooperation when it comes to maintaining wildlife and fishing stocks. This is especially true in the fishing sector. Americans spent 27.9 billion dollars on recreational fishing in 1996 and I can only assume commercially sold fish is also very significant. So there is much at stake. If you think the ocean is too big to impact I suggest you watch this Jellyball Man video (linky) provided by the LA Times. I hope to have high resolution Albacore tuna tracks posted here in the future.

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Back to the birds. Apparently these seabirds will make trips that are around 65,000 kilometers long. And they will transit at a rate of around 1,000 kilometers a day. Adding one amazing feat on top of another, these birds dive to a depth of 200 feet to grab fish. Such an unbelievable set of statistics I am forced to go for a direct quote. This is straight from the abstract:
Transit rates as high as 910 ± 186 km·day-1 were recorded, and shearwaters accessed prey resources in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere's most productive waters from the surface to 68.2 m depth.1
Apparently these pigeons fly a 25,00 mile trip each year.


BBC News: In pictures: Year of marine wonders
TOPP: Sooty shearwater study is TOPP milestone 8/7/2006
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Shaffer et. al, Migratory shearwaters integrate oceanic resources across the Pacific Ocean in an endless summer, 8/16/2006
Science & Spirit, Billion Dollar Bugs, David Wolman