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Ocean buoy reveals birds hanging out in eye of Hurricane Dorian

Published Sep 5th, 2019 8:08PM EDT
hurricane dorian birds
Image: National Data Buoy Center

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Whenever a powerful storm threatens coasts, we often focus on the potential impact on human lives and infrastructure. It can sometimes be easy to forget that hurricanes can severely disrupt the lives of wildlife as well, but some new images from a buoy in Hurricane Dorian’s eye is a great reminder.

The photos, first tweeted out by the National Weather Service in Charleston, South Carolina, show the conditions inside the eye. As you’d expect, there are relatively calm waters, a wall of clouds covering the horizon on all sides and… wait a second, are those birds?

The buoy, which is owned and operated by the National Data Buoy Center, is equipped with multiple cameras that regularly relay images back to its handlers on the mainland. In this case, it clearly shows severals birds doing their best to pretend it’s a day like any other, when in reality they’re riding a tiny slice of clear skies in the middle of a raging storm.

“This is a really interesting image from the Edisto buoy (41004) located ~40 miles SE of Charleston,” the National Weather Service says in its tweet. “The buoy is squarely in the eye of #Dorian and if you look closely at the webcam you can see birds flying around, likely trapped in the eye.”

Venturing into the wall of clouds surrounding them would put the birds in immediate danger, but in the eye, they’re fairly safe. Now that they’re stuck in the eye they’re forced to ride it as far as the storm takes them, lest they get swept away in the hurricane’s high winds.

In a more recent batch of images snapped by the buoy, we can see exactly what it is the birds are trying to avoid by riding the eye:

Image source: National Data Buoy Center

Yeah, I’d probably do my best to stay in the eye, too.