The 17 Most Amazing Animal Migrations On Earth

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When these animals want to move, they don’t mess around.

Will Burrard-LucasIn what is the world’s largest mammal migration, eight million straw-colored fruit bats travel from the Congo to Zambia between October and December every year. The massive bats’ purpose is to feed on the wild musuku fruits, and the area where they end up is so tiny that each tree ultimately holds about ten tons of bats.dailymail.co.uk


Leatherback Sea Turtle

seaturtlecamp.comAll sea turtles migrate throughout the year to suit their breeding, feeding, and temperature needs, but the leatherback sea turtle holds the record among them for distance traveled. They can swim up 10,000 miles each year from Asia to the U.S. west coast in search of food near Washington, Oregon, and California. Even more impressive is that all sea turtles can find their way back to the beach where they were born to lay their own eggs.seeturtles.org

Whale

hawaiimagazine.comBaleen whales, such as gray and humpback whales, migrate up to 16,000 round-trip, giving them the record for the longest migration of any mammal on Earth. During the winter months, they travel to warmer waters to mate, returning to the Arctic or Antarctic parts of the ocean for feeding during the summer.royalsocietypublishing.org

Elephant Seal

Paul NicklenNot only do elephant seals travel 13,000 miles over land and sea every year, but they make the journey twice annually. Even more impressive is that during the first stage of their trip, males and females separate to accommodate the different food needs for each sex; female seals eat squid, while males eat bottom-dwelling fish and small sharks. Somehow, they all reunite again to molt and continue their journey together. britannica.com

Steven YoungIn 2009, it was discovered that there was one dragonfly migration route that was so long, it took multiple generations to complete it. The 11,000-mile journey involves flying over the Indian Ocean from India to the Maldives islands, then to East Africa, then South Africa, and then all the way back to India to complete the cycle. The reasoning for the trip is thought to be due to the monsoon seasons in each area, which are great for providing standing water that dragonflies need to reproduce.bbc.co.uk


Great White Shark

Terry GossGreat White Sharks can travel up to 2,500 miles from the California coast to the Pacific Ocean in search of better feeding opportunities. But while they travel in the open ocean, their food supply is scarce. The secret to their survival is stores of fat in their livers, which can account for up to a quarter of the sharks’ body weight and is comprised of up to 90% lipids. earthsky.org

walkthewilderness.netOver 1.5 million wildebeest (along with 350,000 gazelle and 200,000 zebras) make their way from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya between July and October every year. The journey is essentially a never-ending search for food and is one of the largest animal movements in the world.maasaimara.com


subversify.comThe Pacific walrus’ migration from the Bering Sea to the Chukchi Sea is motivated by their search for ice. They travel in huge groups, using their tusks to assist their movement, and give birth during their spring migration north.nationalgeographic.com


playalapa.comWeighing just 4 oz, the tiny Arctic Tern holds the record for the longest migration route of any animal on the planet. They fly an unbelievable distance of 44,000 miles from Greenland to Antarctica every year… and since they can live up to 30 years, this means that they can travel about 1.5 million miles throughout their lifetime. The Terns fly in a zigzagging pattern to ensure that they’re going with the wind current rather than against it.nationalgeographic.com


naturetarifa.comAs one of the fastest swimming fish in the ocean (they can move up to 62 mph when chasing prey), the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is known for completing long migrations in short amounts of time. About 30% of them cross the entire Atlantic Ocean in any given year, with some of them making the trip multiple times. One tuna was reported to have traveled 25,000 miles between the US and Japan in just twenty months.signalsofspring.net


Tarnya HallSince they can’t survive the cold winters of the United States, monarch butterflies participate in a massive (and colorful) migration to Mexico each year. Flying over 4,000 miles, their journey is outflown only by dragonflies when it comes to insect migrations. They hibernate in the same exact trees every year, which is even stranger; Since the journey is completed by different generations, the butterflies that slept in the trees one year are completely different than the ones that arrive the following year.monarch-butterfly.com


thenaturalhistorian.comEvery March, Emperor penguins strut from the coast of Antarctica to the center of the continent to breed. The 60- to 100-mile trip is even more impressive when you consider the fact that these birds can’t fly and have to waddle there instead. The penguins come from different colonies all over Antarctica, but somehow, instinct drives them to arrive at the same place all at the same time.emperorpenguinmigration.com


ac-versailles.frUp to half a million reindeer travel in massive herds for an annual journey that can span up to 1,600 miles. Like many migrations, theirs is one designed for optimal food consumption— in the summer, when grass is plentiful, they can eat up to 12 pounds of food per day.nationalgeographic.com


US Forest ServiceThe incredible journey that salmon go through for the sake of reproduction is among the most impressive in all of nature. Salmon hatch in fresh water, then travel to the ocean to spend their adult lives. When they reach sexual maturity, they swim upstream for hundreds of miles to spawn. The trip is rough, and since they don’t feed after leaving the ocean, many of them will die of starvation. The lucky ones may live to repeat the cycle several times throughout their lives.fws.gov


Martin HarveyUp to 2.5 million African flamingos travel each year from Tanzania to Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria in Kenya. The reason for the migration is the abundance of Spirulina, which is an algae that gives the birds their signature pink color. Flamingos also need very specific conditions to breed, and the environment around these lakes is ideal for mating.sunsafaris.com


Christmas Island BlogOn Australia’s Christmas Island, around 120 million crabs form a living red carpet as they make their way to the ocean to lay their eggs. The journey lasts about eighteen days in October or November and is dependent on the moon so that the tide is optimal for carrying the eggs out to sea. The migration is so significant that many roads are closed off for its duration, and signs can be found warning people to take care not to accidentally run over the crabs.christmas.net.au


Ghulam RasoolBar-headed geese are some of the most extreme migratory birds, not only for their ability to fly up to 1,000 miles in a single day from India to Tibet, but for the altitude at which they do it. As the world’s highest flying migrants, they can pass directly over Mount Everest, which peaks at over 29,000 feet. Their stamina and ability to not only survive, but fly in very thin air hasn’t been seen in any other animal on the planet.audubonmagazine.org

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