12 Epic Animal Migrations

These animals go to astounding lengths.

Tommy Hansen/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons /Flo Perry

1. Sea turtles

Damien du Toit/flickr/Creative Commons


Two breeds of sea turtle undertake epic migrations. The Loggerhead turtle starts its life in Japan, then travels 8,000 miles across the Pacific ocean to feed on crabs in Mexico, before returning back to the beach where it was born to nest.

ukanda/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative commons

Leatherback turtles start their life in the Caribbean, before swimming north to the freezing waters of Nova Scotia in search of jellyfish. They’re unfazed by the cold because of their massive size – they grow up to six feet long and weigh in at over 1,000 pounds.

usfwssoutheast/flickr/Creative Commons

Max Trujillo / Stringer / Getty


They can follow their need for jellyfish for 10,000 miles, crossing the Atlantic ocean to the shores of west Africa.

Rabon David/ commons.wikimedia.org Creative Commons

2. Humpback whales

Whit Welles/ en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Southern-hemisphere humpback whales leave the Antarctic to breed in the warm waters of Central America, as far north as Costa Rica, before returning home to feed. This is the longest migration of any mammal.

Fritz Geller-Grimm/ fr.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Sanc0602/ fr.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons


3. Wildebeest

Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/ en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

Each year 1.4 million of east Africa’s blue wildebeest population migrate 1,800 miles in a clockwise direction around the national parks of the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara in Kenya.

T. R. Shankar Raman/ en.wikipedia.org / Creative Commons

They are chasing the rainy season in search of greener pastures. One of their biggest challenges is crossing the Mara river in Tanzania, which is populated by crocodiles with a taste for wildebeest.

Lip Kee/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

Eric Inafuku/ commons.wikimedia.org / Creative Commons


4. Monarch butterfly

Agunther/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

Monarch butterflies travel from Mexico to Canada for the summer each year. A single monarch butterfly will live less than three months. They breed en route, going through four generations during one migration cycle.

Kenneth Dwain Harrelson/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

They return to the same trees each year, despite no individual butterfly having visited the tree before.

Flickr: lunasinestrellas /Creative Commons

Gene Nieminen/ commons.wikimedia.org /Creative Commons


5. Reindeer

Canadian Wildlife Service/ learner.org /Creative Commons

American reindeer migrate the farthest of any land mammal, travelling 3,000 miles at around 20 miles per day from Idaho in the winter to northern Canada in the summer.

Dean Biggins/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons


6. Salmon

Marvina Munch/ commons.wikimedia.org /Creative Commons

Sockeye salmon travel further than any other species of salmon. They spawn hundreds of miles upstream in Alaska’s rivers, spend five years at sea, then swim back upstream to where they spawned, to breed, lay their eggs, and then die.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife/ public-domain-image.com /Creative Commons

Dave Menke/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons


7. Whale shark

FGBNMS/Eckert/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

Whale sharks are the largest fish on our planet. They can reach 12 metres in length and are found all over the warm waters of the world, but many feed near the Yucatan peninsula before swimming out into the Atlantic Ocean. Whale sharks have been tracked from the Yucatan all the way over to west Africa and back.

Flickr: 10377119@N07 /Creative Commons

Marcel Ekkel/ Flickr: marcelekkel /Creative Commons


8. Swallows

Bear Golden Retriever/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

Swallows fly up to 12,000 miles a year, migrating from the UK to spend the winter as far away as South Africa.

Ken Thomas/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative commons

Thermos/ en.wikipedia.org(flag)#mediaviewer/File:HirundoRusticaFlight-cropped.jpg /Creative Commons


9. Elephant seals

Frank Schulenburg/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

Northern elephant seals breed on the coasts of California, but spend most of their time feeding in the waters near Alaska. Males and females have different migration routes – males follow predictable paths, whereas females chase moving prey.

mikebaird /fotopedia.com /Creative Commons

Brocken Inaglory/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons


10. Dragonflies

André Karwath/ en.wikipedia.org(aka).jpg /Creative Commons

Dragonflies have the longest migration of any insect. Like monarchs, dragonflies breed en route, and the migration takes four generations to complete. They migrate in order to follow the rainy season from India to Uganda.

BBC/ youtube.com /Flo Perry

11. Bar-headed geese

Diliff/ en.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

Bar-headed geese are the world’s highest-flying bird, flying even higher than Mount Everest. They spend their summers in Mongolia and migrate across the Himalayas to winter in southern India.

BBC/Flo Perry

BBC/ Flo Perry


12. Arctic terns

Andreas Trepte/ de.wikipedia.org /Creative Commons

Arctic terns make the longest migration of any animal, travelling 44,000 miles each year. They breed in Greenland, during the summer, then fly to the other end of the world to spend the southern summer in Antarctica.

Jerzy Strzelecki/ commons.wikimedia.org(js)_63.jpg /Creative Commons

Mike Pennington/ geograph.org.uk /Creative Commons


Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Flo Perry is an editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
  Your Reaction?

    Starting soon, you'll only be able to post a comment on BuzzFeed using a Facebook account or via our app. If you have questions or thoughts, email us here.


    Now Buzzing