Whale Migration

Whale migration can cover incredibly long distances.

Like migration in any other animals, it is a risky and energy-costly habit.

For any animals to migrate, particularly in long distances, the benefits have to outweigh the risks and the costs of energy. While birds for example migrate to higher latitudes for summer months since the insect concentrations are worth it, many whales migrate to warmer waters during winter months to mate and give birth to their young in warmer waters. During the summer, they migrate to cool waters towards the poles where there is lots of krill to eat.

Blue Whale Migration

Blue Whales, Surfacing, USA
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Blue Whales migrate thousands of miles every year between their summer feeding grounds in higher latitudes, and their winter breeding grounds closer to the equator in warmer waters. When they migrate, they don't eat anything for months. Older whales migrate first while younger whales follow behind them. In warm waters, they mate, and pregnant females give birth, before they start the journey to colder waters again. In the cold waters of Arctic or Antarctic, they feed on krill which is plentiful during summer months.

Migration of the Gray Whales

California Gray Whale Calf, San Ignacio Lagoon,Baja California, Mexico
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There are two populations of Gray Whales, both in the Northern Hemisphere. The smaller Western Pacific population travels from Kamtchatka Peninsula in Russia's far east to warm waters south of Korea and Japan during the winter months to mate and give birth to the young. The larger Eastern Pacific population travels about 10,000 km from Alaska to Mexico which is believed to be the longest yearly migration route in all mammals. Pregnant whales arrive first, give birth and leave latest, once the calves are ready for the journey.

Journey of Humpbacks

Humpback Whale, Juvenile, Polynesia
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Humpback Whales, just like Blue Whales, are found in both hemispheres. They, too, migrate long distances between their winter feeding grounds in higher latitudes, and summer breeding grounds in warmer waters closer to the equator. They travel quite slowly, and stop off in places along the road to rest and socialize. Older juveniles tend to travel first, then mature males and finally females with calves. Humpbacks are famous for their whale song while migrating, although other whales, e.g. some Blue Whales do sing too.

Dolphin Migration

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, Bahamas
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Do dolphins migrate? Many species of dolphins move seasonally to find more abundant food and better water temperatures. This, however, is not migration, as migration by definition means annual movements between the same places in each end. Dolphin's movements are more nomadic than migratory, they don't move back and forth between the same places. And unlike baleen whales, they don't move for the purpose of breeding. They also don't move long distances as do the baleen whales.

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