Every animal is different, but scientists have reached a consensus about which mammal travels the farthest in a single year: humpback whales, which were tracked traveling 5,160 miles between Costa Rica and Antarctica. This study followed seven individuals as they moved from wintering waters off Central America to feeding areas off the coast of Antarctica, demonstrating one of the longest annual migrations of any aquatic species, and the longest migration of any mammal.
These humpback whales, however, have been upstaged by other individual animals. A great white shark, nicknamed “Nicole,” swam 6,900 miles from South Africa to western Australia and back in a single year. Similarly, a female leatherback turtle was followed by scientists for 12,744 miles from her initial location at a nesting beach at Papua, Indonesia, to jelly foraging grounds off the coast of Oregon, over 8,000 miles away.
Improvements in animal tracking technology, such as the use of satellite tags, are allowing us to document these amazing animal migrations and provide valuable information to plan conservation strategies that help protect these species.
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