VIDEO. Ornithologists are interested in Alaskan curlews, these sentinel birds perhaps capable of announcing tsunamis and cyclones

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Scientists have traveled to the Tuamotu archipelago, in the heart of French Polynesia, to place beacons on the backs of migratory birds that could help alert populations in the event of natural disasters… Excerpt from the magazine “13h15 le Saturday” from October 8, 2022.

“The first scientists who landed on these islands saw species there that were never seen again because the ships, or the wake of other ships, brought human populations, rats, cats… which have decimated some species. It makes very good sense. special, in the midst of a biodiversity extinction crisis, to revisit these islands.explains to the magazine “13:15 on Saturday” (reprise) the ornithologist Frédéric Jiguet of the National Museum of Natural History.

the Bougainville, a French Navy ship aboard the scientific expedition on a mission to the heart of French Polynesia, departs from Papeete for a fifteen-day voyage to nine uninhabited atolls in the Tuamotu archipelago. First stop: Tepoto where the team hopes to find the Polynesian Kivi, whose real name is Curlew. This migratory wader with a long curved beak lives there much of the year because, when winter comes, it makes its way to the southern hemisphere.

Monitor flight paths and alert in case of suspicious movements

“It is a mythical species that will cross the planet. The migratory phenomena of birds are absolutely fascinating, says a member of the expedition. These animals of a few hundred grams will travel thousands of kilometers. Yes, I find it really fascinating…” During their long migration, Curlews have learned to avoid natural disasters. And this is what particularly interests the scientific team.

When approaching a cyclone or tsunami, curlews perceive infrasound, while humans are unable to. These sentinel birds then fly off to seek shelter. They can stay in the air and weather a storm or fly over a tidal wave that floods the atolls. And then individuals of this species return to land. Ornithologists want to equip them with a GPS beacon to monitor their trajectories and alert people to suspicious movements.

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