Although named after one end of the Earth, Arctic terns are a true pan-polar species, migrating each year from the Arctic and subarctic south to the Antarctic and back again, a round-trip of 35,000 kilometers.
For anyone who has encountered a tern during nesting season, this is a familiar image: the tern hovering overhead, ready to dive aggressively on any perceived threat to its nest. This particular tern was defending a nest it had made beside a road at the scientific research base in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, 1200 km from the North Pole.
“The local wisdom decrees that holding a stick above your head persuades the terns to stop attacking your head,” says Walsh. “But as there’s no trees in Svalbard, only driftwood on the shoreline, this is perhaps not the best solution.”
PHOTOS: Svalbard: Norway's 'Galapagos' in the North