The intertidal mudflats of the Yellow Sea contain the most important stopover sites for migratory shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway – a flyway that has transported birds from breeding grounds in the Russian and Alaskan Arctic to wintering areas in Southern Asia, Australia and New Zealand for hundreds of thousands of years. The productivity of the Yellow Sea’s mudflats and the food they provide to migratory birds are critical to the survival of many species.
The Yellow Sea also lies at the center of one of the most populated regions on earth. More than 420 million people live in it’s vicinity and the pressure on natural resources cannot be overstated. Already more than half of the Yellow Sea’s intertidal areas have been converted to land through a process dubbed “reclamation” and the pace of this reclamation is accelerating. If the remaining intertidal areas are lost, long distance migrant bird species and the livelihoods of people that make their living from these mudflats will be lost as well. Already, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’s population has declined to only a few hundred individuals and the IUCN has stated “that unless major steps are taken taken to reverse current trends, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway is likely to experience extinctions and associated collapses of essential and valuable ecological services in the near future.”
This film provides a primer on the basic biological principles of migratory shorebird ecology and why the Yellow Sea is a critical international hub for bird migration. It includes footage from a number of trips I’ve made for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to tell the story of migratory shorebirds – three trips to China, one to South Korea, and expeditions to Chukotka, Russia and the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
This video, along with several others, were produced for conservation partners in Asia. I’m proud to say they are getting a lot of use at high profile meetings and events in China and elsewhere. This video is also available in Korean, Mandarin, Japanese and Russian.
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Video being shown at the Beidaihe Coastal Wetlands and Waterfowl Seminar 2016. The event brought together officials from Chinese government agencies, representatives from provinces and municipalities around the Yellow Sea and Bohai Seas, as well as experts from local and international research institutions and NGOs. The Symposium was jointly organized by the Paulson Institute, the Convention on Wetlands Management Office of the People’s Republic of China, China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), and Hebei Provincial Government. (Photo courtesy of the Paulson Institute)