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8 Incredible Animal Migrations (Slideshow)

  • a Care2 favorite by Katie Waldeck
8 Incredible Animal Migrations (Slideshow)


For most of us, the biggest migration we make to fill our most basic needs is a trip to the grocery store. Animals, however, are willing to go the distance, sometimes crossing oceans and continents in search of the perfect meal, climate, or place to lay their eggs. Click through to check out some of the most amazing animal migrations on the planet.

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1. Flamingos

Is there a lake underneath all of those birds? There must be! The flamingos that make their home on the lakes of Kenya’s Rift Valley are in search of the green algae that gives them their signature color.

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2. African Elephants

The most traveled elephants on the planet make their home in the extreme conditions of the Malian desert. Water, as you might expect, is in short supply, so the elephants travel up to 300 miles a year to find it.

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3. Orange-Bellied Parrot

Most parrots don’t do any significant migration — why would they, when the climates they live in are fabulous year round? There are exactly two exceptions, however: the orange-billed parrot, shown above, and its fellow Aussie, the Swift Parrot. These spectacular birds breed on the island of Tasmania, and make their way up Australia’s mainland.

So where is the picture of these colorful critters migrating? Well, there aren’t any: these are some of the most endangered birds in Australia, if not the world. Their quirky migration habit has severely diminished their populations.

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4. Leatherback Sea Turtles

Of all the animals on the planet, leatherback sea turtles are some of the most prolific migrators. The Pacific subpopulation of these  international jet-setters lay their eggs on the beaches of Indonesia, but travel all the way to the coasts of California to eat! The Atlantic Leatherbacks are no slouches either, often traveling from the  South America all the way across the ocean to Africa.



5. Sockeye Salmon

Bristol Bay, Alaska is home to the largest wild salmon run in the world, sometimes numbering up to a whopping 40 million fish. Sockeyes usually spend their early lives in lakes and migrate through streams on their way to their final destination: the ocean.

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6. Wildebeests

No other land mammal travels more than the Serengeti wildebeest. The famed African antelope clocks in anywhere between 500 and 1,000 miles annually, primarily  Tanzania’s famed Serengeti. They occasionally group with zebras and gazelles in their quest for prime grass to graze and water to drink.

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7. Monarch Butterflies

They may be small, but monarch butterflies migrate large distances. The butterflies spend their summers in the Northern half of the United States, as well as Canada, and, as it gets cooler, migrate south to Mexico. They’ve even been known to cross the Atlantic Ocean, occasionally showing up in the United Kingdom!

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8. Sooty Shearwaters

In terms of sheer distance, Sooty Shearwaters take the cake. These seabirds have been documented traveling nearly 40,000 miles, taking giant figure eights all around the Pacific ocean. They lay their eggs in New Zealand, and hit the skies, traveling back and forth to such far-away places as Alaska, Japan, and Mexico.

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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
5:47PM PDT on Sep 12, 2015

That's really something. Thanks for sharing.

6:50AM PDT on Apr 25, 2015


5:14AM PDT on Mar 19, 2015

Amazing! Thank you for sharing

2:28AM PST on Jan 28, 2015

Do you reckon they've just got the travel bug and like sight-seeing?

9:35PM PST on Dec 25, 2014

Amazing so many animals & birds travel so far every year.

11:21AM PST on Nov 4, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

5:24PM PDT on Sep 9, 2014

Sockeye Salmon R like a beautiful rainbow

5:22PM PDT on Sep 9, 2014

Interesting, thanks!

8:04PM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

The Sooty Shearwaters certainly travel an amazing distance for their migration.

Very interesting about migrations. The flamingos are most certainly very colourful, they must be quite the sight in the wild, especially when there are hundreds, if not thousands of them all together in one area.

12:35PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Interesting stuff. You forgot, however, the most important animal migration of all time. You might have heard about it. It involved a guy by the name of Noah, an arc and a large number of animals. All of whom came in pairs. (And none of them came in pears. Most of them wouldn't have fit). As I recall, the book recording that migration has become a bestseller. And was turned into a movie with Russell Crowe. i doubt that most people would want to sit through a full-length feature film about flamingos. (Other than John Water's "Pink Flamingos" starring Divine and David Lochary. And as hard as you try during that film, you won't see a live flamingo anywhere in the movie).

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