Stories
© Chairunas Adha Putra
Breeding and nesting in Arctic wetlands

Meet Super-spoonie

Lime 07 nick-named Super-spoonie is not just any bird. He's one of an estimated 300 to 600 spoon-billed sandpipers left in the world. This little bird is critically endangered and migrates 9000 km every year to reach his breeding grounds in the wetlands of Chukotka, Russia. Super-spoonie isn’t alone, many other bird species also make the annual journey to breed in Arctic wetlands.

© Ken Madsen/WWF-Canada

Wetlands: where biodiversity thrives

© Staffan Widstrand/WWF

By definition, a wetland is an ecosystem that is either permanently or seasonally flooded by water. This saturated land is home to aquatic plants built to survive in anaerobic, or oxygen free conditions. But wetlands also support other life as well. They are highly diverse biologically and serve as a temporary home for birds, fish, insects and other animals looking to breed, nest and feed. Although many species do not spend their entire lives in wetlands they could not survive without them.

Several Arctic landscapes can be considered wetlands such as wet tundra, seashore areas, shallow waters and peatlands. Frozen Arctic wetlands store large amounts of carbon as peat. This frozen layer of peat acts as insulation and prevents the thawing of the permafrost underneath.

Around the world, wetlands help reduce flooding by soaking up rain and melting snow. They can help diminish droughts by releasing water when it is dry. This makes them essential to communities worldwide both as biodiversity hot-spots and nature-based solutions for the climate crisis.

© Hartmut Jungius/WWF
© Ketill Berger
The perilous journey

Migratory birds, like Super-spoonie, face many dangers as they travel across the globe to breed in Arctic wetlands. Dangers include predators, floods, harsh weather, possible food shortages, illegal hunting, entanglement in fishing nets and more.

The Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) works to help declining Arctic-breeding migratory bird populations. AMBI brings together experts to protect priority species and their flyways. A flyway is a route used by a significant number of migrating birds.

In the case of Super-spoonie, every time he makes it back to his Arctic breeding grounds, researchers, activists, community members, and others rejoice that this tiny but significant bird has travelled safely from his wintering grounds down south all the way up to the wetlands in the Arctic.

Help protect wetlands

We’ve already lost a third of the world’s wetlands. If they all disappear, over 1 billion people could struggle to find water and food, and 40% of all wildlife species could be affected. We need a New Deal for Nature to put measures in place to protect wetlands. Add your voice and help us defend these vital ecosystems.