May 5, 2016. Water / Oceans
Flagship species are iconic representatives of their ecosystems and charismatic creatures that capture human attention
Cristina G. Mittermeier, Gregory S. Stone, Russell A. Mittermeier, Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, Claudio Campagna, Kent E. Carpenter, Laurence P. Madin, David Obura, Enric Sala, Sebastian Troëng, Peter A. Seligman & Stefan Gutermuth
Penguins, albatrosses, shearwaters, and petrels, along with some species of gulls and terns, are true marine pelagics, spending only a small fraction of their lives on the land. Much like sea turtles, pinnipeds, and horseshoe crabs, their link to the terrestrial world is typically limited only to a brief breeding season. The rest of their lives is spent far from land, cruising above and across the oceans of the world. Seabirds like the albatrosses, the Arctic Tern , and the Wilson’s Stormpetrel are probably the greatest wanderers of all creatures. Their migrations are legendary, beating out the peregrinations of any land animals, and even those of the leatherback turtle and the great whales.
Among the most charismatic and universally loved and recognized seabirds are penguins. Their wings have evolved into flippers for swift propulsion under water, they boast thick fat for insulation, and dine exclusively on fish
Unfortunately, seabirds are severely threatened by their inadvertent ingestion of the increasing amounts of floating plastic debris in the world’s oceans, which can cause digestive blockages and high rates of mortality.
This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Conservation Series Book Oceans: Heart of Our Blue Planet (2011)