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Three amazing animal migrations

Credits: Arctic tern © James Rogerson

By land! By sea! By Air!

Migration is the movement of animals. Sometimes it is for food. Sometimes is to escape the cold. Sometimes it is to breed. It depends on the animal. Some of these journeys are quite incredible - the distances which are travelled can be enormous. The Military Mutual have put together some of the most spectacular examples of journeys which are completed on land, sea and air.

You can see the journeys on this interactive map.

Sea: Great White Shark

We often see great white sharks as fearsome and frightening but they also travel far and fast! Great whites migrate, but compared to other fish, the distances they can travel are enormous. Scientists tracked one great white shark’s journey; it travelled all the way from the coast of South Africa to Australia - an incredible 6,900-mile trip in 99 days. But there is a twist in this fishy tale... six months later scientists spotted the shark again - but this time it was back in South Africa, meaning the shark had gone back and done the whole journey again! This made the total migration distance 12,400 miles. This shark broke all previous records and it was also the fastest, sustained (non-stop), distance covered by any shark. The shark travelled around three miles per hour - which is about the same speed as you and I walk, on average. It might seem slow but imagine doing that for nine months without stopping. Amazing!

Land: Caribou

You know Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer has a shiny nose and is pretty good at guiding sleighs? Well that’s because he’s a reindeer. Reindeer, or caribou as they are known in North America, migrate the farthest of any land mammal on Earth. They can travel distances of around 3,000 miles per year. They move from their summer home on the coastal areas of Alaska and the Yukon Territory of North America, to the mountain valleys of the Brooks Range in winter. They move not only to find food but also find a safe place to have their calves. The caribou can run at speeds of of 37-50 miles per hour, and at one day old, they would already be able to outrun Usain Bolt!



Air: Arctic Tern

Arctic terns are a type of seabird must really like the sunshine - and the summer season in general because they see two every year. Imagine, two summers each year! The reason for this is because of their migrations. In fact, Arctic Terns are pretty famous because of their migrations - they fly from Arctic to the Antarctic and back again each year. This round trip is about 56,000 miles. Not only is this the farthest migration by any bird, it is also the longest in the animal kingdom. The average Arctic tern will travel approximately 1.5 million miles which is the same distance as if you went on a round trip from Earth to the Moon over three times. Phew!


If you want to see more incredible journeys made on land, sea, and air by mammals, fish, birds and insects then check out this map. It’s got some more really cool examples, which shows the locations of where these animals migrate and the distances too!