More evidence that everything in the universe, or at least the Pacific, really is connected. By odds too remote to be calculated, a New Zealand biologist discovered a rice-sized ID chip in the stomach of a sooty shearwater chick.
The chip traced to a chinook salmon tagged two years ago on the Columbia River, more than 7,000 miles away.
The biologists have been making the mental leaps ever since. Shearwater chicks are flightless and don’t even get in the water until after they fledge. The bird’s parent must have eaten the salmon, then regurgitated the chip into the chick along with a meal. But chinook salmon are big – way bigger than a shearwater (if there’s any justice in the world, there should be some chinook salmon swimming around right now with shearwater tags in their bellies).
Anyway, that means the shearwater must have plucked the tagged chinook out of the water back when the fish was beak sized – and carried the chip since then. That’s imaginable, since all birds have a crop – a sort of mechanical stomach where they store hard objects. It’s what they have instead of teeth. The chip could have lodged in there and then just come back out again.
And shearwaters are famous travelers. Just last year, in fact, a team of biologists made headlines when they established that sooty shearwaters take a 40,000 mile, figure-8 loop around the Pacific every year chasing an endless summer of food.
Oh, and the biologists were from the University of California, Santa Cruz. See what I mean about everything being connected?