New research shows that each Arctic tern flies a distance equal to three round trips to the moon in its life. The bird, which breeds in Iceland and Greenland, travels longer distances than any other animal on earth.
An Arctic tern. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“This distance that they travel is much longer than earlier believed,” ornithologist Aevar Petersen told RÚV. “People knew that they traveled long distances, but we are talking about 70,000 kilometers every year, back and forth.”
The Arctic tern flies from northeast Greenland and Iceland in August. It pauses for a month in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.
Then the tern continues onwards with stopovers to its winter habitat in the Antarctica, where it arrives in December. In spring it returns to Iceland and Greenland.