Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Environment

Soaring eagle films crumbling Alpine glaciers as Earth warms

Organizers hope his spectacular eagle’s-view footage will help jolt the world out of climate-change apathy and toward swifter action to combat its effects.
In this image made from video provided by Eagle Wings Foundation/Chopard, aerial footage shot by a camera attached to an eagle of a glacier in Western Europe. A white-tailed eagle is filming as he flies over the Alps and its once-magnificent glaciers, which are now crumbling because of global warming. The eagle named Victor will embark upon a series of flights in the first week on Oct. 2019, filming as he soars over the Alps. Organizers hope that his spectacular eagle’s-view footage will help jolt the world out of its climate-change apathy and toward swifter action to combat its effects. [AP]
Published Oct. 2

PARIS — The images will be stunningly beautiful yet also hint of dire future consequences. Filmed with a camera mounted between his majestic wings, they’ll show how a white-tailed eagle named Victor sees the world as he flies over the Alps and captures its once-magnificent glaciers now crumbling because of global warming.

Their wasting away is unlikely to be a pretty sight. And that’s the whole point.

Victor will embark upon five flights this week over the Alps. Organizers hope his spectacular eagle’s-view footage will help jolt the world out of climate-change apathy and toward swifter action to combat its effects.

His handler hopes that seeing the world as an eagle sees it will also convince viewers of the importance of protecting birds and their environments, especially after a devastating recent report chronicled their decline.

RELATED: Restoring forests 1 tree at a time, to help repair climate

“Humanity has two dreams: to swim with dolphins and fly with eagles,” French falconer and Freedom Conservation founder Jacques-Olivier Travers said. “This is the first time that we’ll really ride on an eagle’s back over such distances and such vistas, and see how he flies.”

“How can you convince people to protect the birds and their environment if you never show them what the birds see?” he added.

Weather permitting, the nine-year-old Victor will set off Thursday from the top of the Swiss mountain Piz Corvatsch with a 360-degree camera on his back and a GPS to track his progress. He’ll fly through Germany, Austria, and Italy before ending his mountain tour in France on Oct. 7.

A colleague will release Victor from the top of each peak. During each flight, the eagle will fly 1.8 to 3.1 miles — and descend 5,000 to 9,800 feet — in search of Travers below.

“I don’t have a remote control. So if he doesn’t see me and decides not to come to me, he could go anywhere,” Travers said.

That’s why the flights are weather dependent. If Victor’s vision is obscured by clouds, “he won’t come,” Travers said. “It’s essential that he sees me.”

Carrying a camera does slow Victor down.

In this image made from video provided by Eagle Wings Foundation/Chopard, aerial footage shot by a camera attached to an eagle of a glacier in Western Europe. A white-tailed eagle is filming as he flies over the Alps and its once-magnificent glaciers, which are now crumbling because of global warming. The eagle named Victor will embark upon a series of flights in the first week on Oct. 2019, filming as he soars over the Alps. Organizers hope that his spectacular eagle’s-view footage will help jolt the world out of its climate-change apathy and toward swifter action to combat its effects. [AP]

“It’s a bit like putting a washing machine on the roof of your car. You don’t go as fast and you use more energy,” Travers said. “It’s the same for him. He doesn’t fly as fast with that on his back and it demands a greater effort from him.”

But Victor’s earlier flights over Paris and Burj Khalifa garnered millions of views, and organizers hope the bird’s heavy lifting will yield powerful images that make disappearing glaciers impossible to ignore.

Travers has witnessed the melting firsthand during scouting trips ahead of Victor’s travels. A German glacier that had hard-packed snow when he first visited last year is now mushy, he said.

“I was stunned,” he said. “The difference over a year was incredible.”

Disintegrating permafrost, which now glues a glacier’s rocks together, can cause them to crumble with potentially devastating consequences.

Victor’s flight comes as Italian authorities are scrambling to respond to fears that part of a large Italian glacier near Mont Blanc is on the verge of collapsing. They’ve warned that falling ice could endanger homes and people in the Val Ferret area, a popular hiking area.

At the rate the planet is warming, it’s too late to save the Alps’ glaciers, Freedom Conservation Managing Director Ronald Menzel said. But it’s not too late to fight climate change more broadly. He hopes Victor’s popularity will spur viewers into action.

“We hope that once more, people are going to see nature from a totally different perspective and just reconnect to it and realize that wow, it’s actually something that is amazing and that we want to do something to preserve,” he said.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. A sign seen on the front door of Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria in March, after owner Tom Woodard stopped serving drinks with plastic straws. The St. Petersburg City Council voted 5-2 on Thursday night to ban single-use plastic straws. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    The City Council tweaked its own ordinance banning single-use plastic straws, which is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
  2. Maintainers prepare KC-135s refueling planes to be evacuated from MacDill Air Force Base in August. A new study predicts MacDill and other Florida bases will experience a sharp rise in the number of days when the heat index tops 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it unsafe to be outside for extended periods. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    MacDill Air Force Base is predicted to see big increases in days the heat index tops 100 degrees.
  3. Yesterday• Arts & Entertainment
    A visitor feeds the pelicans at the Pier Bait House in St. Petersburg in 2010. Tampa Bay Times (2010)
    Plus, an expert explains how their pouches work, what to do if you catch one on a fishing hook and more.
  4. Pelicans sit on a pier along Boca Ciega Bay in Pass-a-Grille. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    An old limerick ignites a quest for recognition for the big-billed friends of the city.
  5. St. Petersburg's single-use plastic straw ban kicks in starting Jan. 1, 2020. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Times
    The City Council on Thursday is set to adopt some tweaks to the ordinance, including making all straws by-request-only.
  6. One of a pair of orphaned panther kittens is being examined by the staff at ZooTampa. The pair, named Pepper and Cypress, so far have shown no signs of the ailment that led to their mother's death, zoo officials said. Courtesy of ZooTampa
    The mother had to be euthanized because a mysterious ailment left her unable to walk.
  7. Flood-elevation requirements for permanent Florida Keys homes could mean local ‘tiny homes’ wind up with more square footage than most of the diminutive domiciles. Courtesy of Bayview Homes
    “We cannot keep building the way we always have and expect a different outcome in future disasters.”
  8. A special garbage truck services an Underground Refuse System bin in Kissimmee. Clearwater recently bought six bins and a truck to service them, and will install the receptacles at the city's world-famous beach. City of Kissimmee
    “You don’t get to be the number one beach in America without taking care of business like this.”
  9. Archaeologist Terry Barbour excavates a bead-making site on Raleigh Island in the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. Barbour's team then used a drone with radar to map the entire village of 37 ring-shaped piles of oyster shells where ancient dwellers made beads out of shells. PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNETH E. SASSAMAN  |  Photo courtesy of Kenneth E. Sas
    Scientists stumbled on the site while assessing BP oil spill effects in 2010
  10. Eckerd College President Donald R. Eastman III signed a pledge Tuesday that will prohibit the purchase of most nonessential single-use plastics using college funds, an initiative spearheaded by Eckerd College's Reduce Single-Use two-year research project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program. Eckerd College
    The retiring president signs a pledge to continue that initiative once the funding expires.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement