A new study has demonstrated how gadly petrels use an innate knowledge of oceanic wind patterns to optimise their foraging trips.
Gadly petrels, the genus Pterodroma, are among the most iconic of seabirds and routinely cover some of the longest distances known of any animal.
How they decide on routes and destinations for foraging trips remains poorly understood, but it has been widely assumed that the birds visit memorised feeding areas repeatedly. However, the new findings suggests otherwise. Using GPS tracking data, researchers investigated the role of wind in the flight behaviour and foraging strategy of Desertas Petrels.
Desertas Petrel breeds only on Bugio Island in the Desertas archipelago, situated off south-eastern Madeira. The species is classified as Vulnerable due to its very small population, which is estimated to be fewer than 1,000 mature individuals.
The team found that the species undertook some of the longest foraging trips ever recorded in any species – some proved to be as long as 12,000 km over deep, pelagic waters.