Blog

Ocean Currents

Get to Know the Arctic Tern

Traveling for the summer? I bet you're not going as far as the Arctic tern.

Oscar Wilhelmy
© Oscar Wilhelmy

Small, but mighty—the Arctic tern is a truly impressive bird (and one of my favorites). Despite their small size—only weighing 0.22 pounds, about a foot long and having a wingspan of about two and a half feet—these birds are capable of amazing things!

Their small size gives them excellent agility to snatch up fish just below the surface of the water, or from other birds. Survival of the fittest! Arctic terns can sleep and eat, all while gliding. In fact, Arctic terns are one of the few birds, besides hummingbirds, that can hover in midair.

Ning Mosberger-Tang
© Ning Mosberger-Tang
Arctic terns don’t just see one summer—they see two summers each year—thanks to their migratory pattern. They are in the Arctic for the northern summer and the Antarctic for the southern summer. As a result, Arctic terns see more daylight than any other animals in the world—and never have to worry about winter.

Traveling for the summer? I bet you’re not going as far as the Arctic tern. They have one of the longest known migration routes, traveling up to 90,000 km in one year. Arctic Terns travel an estimated 1.8 million miles in their lifetime. Try to wrap your head around that distance!

Part of the year, Arctic terns make their home in the Arctic. The Arctic is home to some of the world’s most extraordinary marine wildlife, from Arctic terns to narwhals to polar bears and even corals. Species like walruses and seals depend on the Arctic ice to live. Communities of indigenous people and Alaskan natives depend on a healthy marine environment for survival. You can help protect the future of the Arctic with a donation today.

Related Articles