A huge amount of housing and infrastructure here wouldn’t be allowed now, because when it was built it would have disrupted rare birds (or perhaps that is why the birds are now rare).
It does make one feel more aware of how the world is connected when you realise that migratory birds need to survive stopovers in other countries like China.
The birds also need to survive in New Zealand, where just a few signs and some social convention prevents dogs from attacking nesting sites (edit: or people disturbing them), and it would be hard to lock down the area since many people would strongly assert their rights to go there.
People aren't allowed to go into the breeding areas on the Otago Peninsula for Albatrosses, surely something similar could be done for these?
I just wish our govt would assert more control in our EEZ from illegal fishing. It's very saddening when you read articles about how the adult birds get caught in the nests etc.
Yet the most pernicious threats to albatrosses today are not to chicks but to adult birds. Along with other seabirds, they are locked in a competitive battle with humankind for the food resources of the sea—and the birds are losing. This is not just because of the efficiency of modern fishing practices but because fishing equipment—hooks, nets and trawl wires—inflicts a heavy toll of injury and death.
There are hundreds that nest at the end of the spit. You can see how close to residential areas it is, a short walk: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Southshore,+Christchurch/@...
The reserve gets quite a lot of foot traffic, many locals walking the beach, and some visitors in summer (being at the end of a cul-de-sac helps reduce visitors). It would not surprise me if the end was cordoned off in the future, although I presume that would require a marine reserve status or something as I’m not sure under what circumstances the government can just fence off foreshore areas.
Aside: I recently found one dolphin vertebra, which would be legal to have if I notified the right people. “you are entitled to collect bones, teeth, ivory or ambergris that have already separated naturally from a dead marine mammal provided DOC is notified as soon as possible and are given details of the time, place and circumstances under which these items are found.”. You can’t chop out a bone from a carcass: “if anyone removes any part from a dead marine mammal this also may be interpreted as taking that mammal ... liable to imprisonment for up to 6 months, or a fine of up to $250,000” + $10k per animal. The actual law says: “by any person who finds or collects bones, teeth, ivory, or ambergris that have already separated naturally from a marine mammal if that person, as soon as practicable, notifies the Director-General or an officer of the find, and gives details of the time, place, and circumstances under which the find was made” so notify both?
Aside 2: I found an albatross wing on the beach a few months ago - much longer than my arm. I am pretty sure that it is highly endangered and illegal to even pick that up. However a friend is taking it in to the museum where there is someone that can decide what to do with it. I have found dead penguins in Dunedin and Kaikoura, and a penguin wing at Brighton.
I was once told NZ didn't get any bird flu because no Birds fly into NZ due to distance and only migrate outwards as they are the southwest part of map as the reason why they have the best poultry in the industry. Now it turns out that is a flat out lie.
Even if we assume that the bird is almost all fat and fat can store ~3500kcal per pound, the maximum stored energy is 4kwh. That gives us 0.8wh per mile. So we can safely say that the bird spent [1.5-4kwh] to do this trip.
Teslas that are very efficient are in the order of 200 wh per mile.
What the heck we have a lot of work to do.
Try normalizing by mass.
An ant can lift a hundred times its body weight, but if you scale it up to human size it collapses under its own weight and immediately dies.
You can drop an injection moulded plastic toy car a hundred times its height into the ground and it won't even dent. If you make a car frame out of the same materials and with the same techniques it will likely fall apart before it's off the conveyor belt.
If you make a scale model of a planetary, you'll struggle getting it to start spinning around its center of mass through gravitational forces.
It makes no sense to normalize by weight because it does not scale by weight.
With lower energy use, lower food consumption is needed. No animal can actively move their muscles 8+ days straight without refueling.*
*[Citation needed], because nature loves to prove me wrong
The article seems to indicate that they are, in fact, flapping their wings the whole time.
A random google search turned up this: https://www.birdwatchingdaily.com/news/science/five-bird-spe...
> Researchers have learned that digestive tracts of long-distance migrants work overtime prior to migration. Food intake is increased, and the food is metabolized and stored as fat, which serves as the birds’ flight fuel. Bar-tailed Godwits store fat until it makes up about one half their weight. Then the digestive system shuts down so metabolic energy can be maximized for muscle use.
Albion H. Bowers was the Chief Scientist at NASA's Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center published some fantastic research:
On Wings of the Minimum Induced Drag: Spanload Implications for Aircraft and Birds
but here are some videos that get the message across:
NASA's Albion H. Bowers - "Why Birds Don't Have Vertical Tails" - AMA EXPO 2014 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoT2upDbdUg)
"Prandtl Wing Minimum Drag Update" - Al Bowers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCwtcDNB15E)
Fly with Birds: Meeting with Albion H. Bowers
We could massively improve our efficiency by adopting this. Its a shame that we are flying as much as we do and using so much unnecessary fuel.
So, this title made me smile and think of him :)
It's not just physical feats like this, but the way some of the the corvids pack incredible brains in a volume and mass significantly less than other non-flying animals with roughly similar levels of intellegence (although I appreciate that cross-species intelligence comparisons are always difficult).
The big heavy dinos didn't have that. Nor did the Neanderthals.
The problem with efficiency is that when you have more than enough resources, you get obese very quickly. Like chickens and modern humans. :)
> males weigh 190–400 g (6.7–14.1 oz), while females weigh 260–630 g (9.2–22.2 oz);
quite efficient, sentient automaton. on the other hand the tracker we built keeps going offline because it needs constant recharging :-)
The article mentions that is solar-powered, but even then how much power could it generate?
That said, as if it wasn't impressive enough that Godwits can fly over 8000 miles non-stop, it's even more amazing that they can do it while burdened with a tracking device!
The weight isn't the whole story, it's how it is placed that matters as well.
>The transmission technology will continue to be of great importance, as sensors weighing five grams are still too heavy for many animal species: 70 percent of bird species and 65 percent of mammal species, not to mention amphibians or insects, cannot be equipped with sensors using the current technology. The next generation of Icarus sensors will therefore weigh just one gram.
This is just amazing
Microwave Telemetry builds the smallest ones: https://www.microwavetelemetry.com/solar_ptts The design and manufacture of these devices is incredible. The guy behind the company is an incredible engineer (and a nice guy)!
So surprising you can run a GPS on a solar panel of about 1cm2 (my estimate), see picture in article
Human beings cannot do anything like this.
These birds are awesome.
Still, I find it peculiar and somehow off the mark to contextualise one bird's flight as a "world record".
In the bird's world, these are ordinary events. The only standout feature of that flight is that no human had witnessed and recorded anything more superlative.
It's OK that humans enjoy measuring things and celebrating the longest X or the biggest Y or the fastest Z. As I human, I get that.
What's less OK, and somewhat diminishing of the bird's natural majesty, is that if another bird were to fly 2% slower or less far, humans might shrug their shoulders and ask, so what?
> While the other competitors stopped to sleep for six hours, Young kept running. He ran continuously for five days, taking the lead during the first night and eventually winning by 10 hours
There are also 48 hr and 7 day races. Sleep is necessary somewhere between those two points, though two guys just went 85 hours with basically no sleep:
That's a race where every hour on the hour you have to complete 4.166 miles. You get as much rest as the balance of your time after you complete a lap till the next hour begins. Most competitors complete a lap in around 48-52 minutes. The race continues until there is only one runner left to complete a lap.
> Previous estimates, when accounting for glycogen depletion, suggest that a human could run at about a 10 minute per mile pace, which allows existing fat stores to be converted to glycogen, forever. The only limit to our eventual mileage, therefore, is our need for sleep.
Humans vs horses:
Cheetahs, wolves : https://www.businessinsider.com/how-humans-evolved-to-be-bes...
We're really good at running.
Animals don't realize that if they just ran 10 miles away they would escape easily. They'll just run far enough away that they can't really see us anymore. Then we find them and chase them again. Eventually they get tired because they sprint away and we conserve our energy.
A horse may be physically capable of running farther than a human, but actually getting them to do that is another thing.
We're quite good when trained, but the average diet/lifestyle doesn't allow us to come anywhere close to our potential
Yes, and birds are lousy coders. We all have our strengths.
Well, I've flown that far in a day, carrying a couple of suitcases, but it took that bird a week and a half with no luggage.
To be the nitpick: You have been flown that far in a day. On a species-level perhaps an equally impressive feat, but on an individual level I’m more impressed by the birdie..
The most comparable feat of navigation and stamina that humans can do is sailing around the world alone. Some sailors will sleep for no more than 20 minutes at a time scattered throughout the day.
About the closest thing I can think of are the Polynesian canoeists who first crossed the vast distances of the Pacific to reach isolated island chains and they must have done that more than once too.
Those guys were some very special people if you ask me.
A trained horse can cover 100+ miles per day with a rider, a husky can run 100+ miles in a sledge, and they will probably outpace humans. Not to mention that only a tiny fraction of humans can even finish a marathon, which is no big deal for most wolves or horses.
And camels and maybe ostriches will probably outrun us in hot climate as well (but that I didn't check).
Depends on the time constraints - I think a large percentage people can finish a marathon within 12 hours, even more if you allow up to 16 hours.
It's humbling to realize how far off our technology is in certain areas from competing even with insects.
P.S. This aircraft flew from Japan to Hawaii in 118 hours solely powered by solar energy https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/solar-impulse-2-br...
(n.b. this isn't to dispute the awesomeness of birds.)
Your point being?
Of course our technology is going to lose, it’s nowhere near as mature as nature’s.
A lot of folks look at the narrow window of time of their life as evidence for very broad-sweeping claims and frankly, I find that to be very arrogant, short-sighted, and frightening. A lot of people with this kind of mindset are now in high-power positions and making decisions that we have yet to see the repercussions for, with the short-term results they can show as evidence of their success and no concern for the long-terms effects.
Everywhere we went, we planted intricately organised forests of different plant species that then aided an enhanced biodiversity of the fauna too. It's only recently in our history that humans have turned from a proliferator of biodiversity to a poison for it.
Humans being a destructive force to the ecosystems we depend on is definitely not a new thing.
However this cannot be said for the megafauna in Australia: https://theconversation.com/aboriginal-australians-co-existe...
Our propensity to blame past extinctions on humans often has more to do with projecting our own civilisation's tendancies at destruction than some immutable fact about human nature.
Mammoths also tended to live in areas of relatively low biodiversity such as the artic and tundra anyway so this does not contradict my point that historically humans have caused increases in the biodiversity in their local ecologies.
There is substantial evidence that the Amazon rainforest for instance was at least in part cultivated: https://www.voanews.com/a/amazon-rainforest-ancient-people-c...
(Just responding to your point; not claiming the parent is right or wrong.)
The plough turns out to mine the soil, not augment it.
Nature's benchmarks for economy of resources are still so very far ahead from anything human made
Next time I'll send through a pigeon.
The bird's average speed is 33 mph (29 knots). Cargo vessels tend to cruise at about 18-25 knots, and many move more slowly.
There's little direct traffic between Alaska and Australia. Shipping lines are visible through their emissions trails, as in this Nullschool link showing NO2 concentrations, from May of this year. The long lines are shipping lanes. You'll note these from Panama to New Zealand, tracking along the Western US coast and Alaska along the Great Circle route to Japan and China, and past Papua New Guinea, among other notable routes:
The data recorders would also likely note any marked variations in travel speed or direction. Again, ships tend not to cover the routes flown by Godwits.
Still I wouldn’t have known about either without the HN-posted article.
Don’t they need sleep?
How do they know to start on the exact same day every year? Fly to the exact same place?
I am a bit jealous of the scientists who get to work with such amazing creatures :)
And lots of birds perform marvelous feats of long-range navigation, storks, for example, travel thousands of kilometers each year to return to their nest for breeding.
They are amazing creatures.
There are dragon flies that migrate from India to Africa. It takes three generations to complete the round trip. So how do they know? It must be just a feeling.
I guess that a long time ago when India and Aftrica were adjacent parts of Gondwana land, the migration must have been quite short. But as the continents drifted apart the dragoon flies had to adapt to the longer route.
Nothing scientific here, just a casual comment.
I know this isn't an insightful comment, but
In fact, going directly over the Pacific is only maybe ~30% shorter.
At this point we should check which animal can travel as fast as a shuttle and go back and forth to the moon.
Pretty cool stuff! Have to wonder when this evolved, and whether it could be mimicked.
> “They feed in the air, they mate in the air, they get nest material in the air,” 
> "They can land on nest boxes, branches, or houses, but they can’t really land on the ground.” That's because their wings are too long and their legs are too short to take off from a flat surface.
For instance, common swifts can flight continuously for months. They obviously accumulate a huge distance during this time, even when they're not migrating. They live in Eurasia, from Lisbon to Vladivostok. And they winter in Africa, south of Congo. I think Vladivostok-Harare is a longer trip than Alaska-Australia, but it's probably hard to put sensors on small birds during their migration.
> Except when nesting, swifts spend their lives in the air, living on the insects caught in flight; they drink, feed, and often mate and sleep on the wing. Some individuals go 10 months without landing. No other bird spends as much of its life in flight. Contrary to common belief, swifts can take flight from level ground. Their maximum horizontal flying speed is 111.6 km/h. Over a lifetime they can cover millions of kilometers.
Unlike albatross or other long-flying seabirds, godwits are active flyers, not gliders—their wings are moving the whole time. “It just beggars belief, really,” Riegen says. “I mean, though I've known that for decades now, I still find it hard to imagine how anything can keep up that sort of effort 24-hours a day, without taking a break.”
What do they mean by land bird?
Caveat: I'm not arguing for another change or passing judgment. I just thought the change itself was notable. And bird names are ridiculous.
I agree with you that "bar-tailed godwit" is an invitation to dumb internet jokes (a couple popped into my mind as soon as I saw that), but so far the thread is mercifully free of them.
p.s. Here's a past explanation about all this, with links to others: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22932244.