Weather to mate, search for food, or move to a warmer climate, these journeys are often fraught with danger but are ultimately rewarding.
We’ll show you that animals go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the survival of their species. Covering topics like the Monarch Butterfly, the Pink Flamingo, and the Emperor Penguin…brought to you by Zero2Hero.
Transcript provided by YouTube:
Every single year, billions of animals, large and small, take on epic journeys via water,
air and land.
Weather to mate, search for food, or move to a warmer climate, these journeys are often
fraught with danger but are ultimately rewarding.
We’ll show you that animals go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the survival of their species.
And stay tuned to number 1 to find out which animal gives up it’s own life in the process!
Number 10: monarch butterflies.
Yes, I said butterflies…Each year, millions of butterflies travel south for the winter.
The only insect migration of its kind sees these creatures cover large distances as they
search for a more temperate climate.
Flying from the Rocky Mountains in the USA and Canada they travel south to Mexico.
And, strangely, if they are from the eastern states of the US they travel west to Pacific
Grove California, a journey of around 2,500 miles.
When they arrive, exhausted, they look for trees to hibernate in.
In Mexico, they choose the Oyamel Fir trees, covering them completely in a blanket of bright
orange butterflies, and in California, they choose Eucalyptus trees.
Traveling around 50-100 miles a day, flying at speeds of 15-20 mph, these butterflies
use thermal air currents to help them along, as it can take them 2 months to finally reach
But that’s not the end of it either, as they travel all the way back to whence they came…once
the winter is over!
Number 9: The Sardine Run.
Moving from the air to the sea, the Sardine Run is a huge gathering of, believe it or
not…sardines, or actually, Southern African Pilchards.
These fish gather in the billions to spawn in the cooler waters of the Agulhas Bank,
before moving north along the coast of South Africa towards Mozambique and eventually heading
out into the Indian Ocean.
With shoals that are often more than 4 miles long, 1 mile wide and 1000 feet deep, this
gathering itself, acts a draw for other far smaller migrations of large ocean hunters
on the lookout for a good meal.
Creating feeding frenzies wherever these small fish go.
Predators such as sharks, dolphins, and humpback whales all zero in on the billions of fish
from below while birds, such as Cape Gannets, attack from above.
But these fish gather in such vast numbers that the predators cannot get them all.
And so, spawning in this massive way helps ensure the future of the species.
Number 8: Green Sea Turtles.
Staying in the salty blue, but this time following thousands of endangered Green Sea Turtles.
As each year the female turtles return to the beaches they were hatched on.
For some this means returning to Costa Rica’s tortuguero National Park, for others it’s
the remote islands along the great barrier reef.
Regardless of where they are heading, they will all travel great distances through the
dangerous open ocean to locate the very beaches that they swam into the oceans from when they
They haul themselves up onto the beach, find a suitable location, dig a hole and lay up
to 100 eggs, before burying them safely away and slipping back into the ocean.
Again, in doing this they are putting themselves at risk, because just like with the sardines,
their predators also know of this event and the female turtles are often met by the ragged
teeth of sharks.
But so long as their eggs are safe, it’s all worth it once they hatch.
Number 7: wildebeest.
Driven by a need to eat, up to 1.5 million wildebeest follow the rains across Africa
each year, they are often joined in this endeavour by thousands of zebra and numerous other herds
of grazing animals.
I’ll wait for you to finish singing the Toto song in your head…or maybe it was Ninja
Anyway, they arrive shortly after the rains fall on the southern Serengeti in November
Feeding on the fresh green grass they will stay in this location until around March.
But keep in mind that most of the females had calves in February, drawing a lot of attention
from the lionesses, leopards and cheetahs on the plains.
As their newborns gain strength and the grasses begin to die off the herds start their journey
north in April and May.
By June the animals reach start to hit some dangerous parts of their journey, the Grumeti
River, while at this time of year is mainly pools it only slows the progress of the herds
and is another area where predators will lay in wait.
By September as they continue to travel even further north they hit the Mara River, causing
them serious problems.
The young face the risk of being dragged away in the swollen river by the currents and drowning,
but there are also hundreds of crocodiles waiting for an easy meal.
Those that make it through the waters then begin the journey back south to the southern
plains of the Serengeti National Park, and the whole cycle starts again, each year!
Number 6: Red Crabs.
Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, is an island covered by rainforest, and is home
to more than 50 million bright red, palm sized land crabs.
Driven by the need to breed the small burrowing creatures set out at the beginning of the
wet season, October to November, on a synchronized, island wide mass migration, to breed and release
their eggs into the sea.
The rains give them damp soils and the overcast sky gives them protection from the sun on
their long and difficult journey.
This is important, as, if at any stage they are caught in the open sun for too long they
will dry up and die.
It’s thought that the timing of the migration may be linked to the phases of the moon, because
high and low tides at this time of year do not differ too much, it makes it safer for
the females to enter the water and release their precious eggs.
The main migration can last up to 18 days, as these small crabs scale cliffs, forests
and risk being run over as they pour across the roads in order to follow the routes that
they use each year on both the outward and homeward legs of their impressive journey.
As for the billions of eggs laid each year, well they hatch almost immediately and spend
around a month in the ocean before returning to the shore to begin their lives on the island.
Creating their very own migration of tiny baby crabs.
Number 5: Flamingos.
These iconic looking birds are probably more surprising than you knew.
Living in extremely toxic, highly alkali waters, they survive by eating blue green algae, which
is a plant that produces cyanide.
While the levels of this plant they consume would kill most other animals, or seriously
damage their internal organs, the only side effect it has on these birds is that famous
With few other animals able to cope with these conditions, the flamingos have very little
competition for food.
They gather in huge flocks wherever the food is most abundant, these flocks can be a million
The vast flocks synchronize their breeding, which gives their offspring the best chance
It’s this synchronized nesting that draws millions of birds to the same locations each
year, as from April to June they arrive to nest at Lake Natron in Tanzania from the rift
valley lakes of east Africa, were they can be seen performing synchronized mating dances.
And once the babies are ready, the mass migration happens again back to the lakes they came
Number 4: Fruit Bats.
In Zambia one of the world’s largest, yet least known, mammal migrations occur each
From October to December, upwards of 10 million straw colored fruit bats descend onto a small
patch of forest in the Kasanka National Park.
They’re here to gorge on the abundance of fruit hanging from the trees.
Each night these hungry creatures can consume up to twice their body weight in fruit, and…crazy
enough…this makes them responsible for up to 60% of the of the seed dispersal for Africa’s
rain forest trees.
Though these bats gather here each year in the millions, little is known about their
life away from this bewildering spectacle.
They are thought to travel thousands of miles to get here.
Some have been tracked over 1,000 miles to the democratic republic of Congo, but it is
believed that this may not be the final destination, and that these animals may fly even further
Making this mass gathering all the more spectacular.
Number 3: Emperor Penguins.
Every March, up to 400,000 penguins begin their pilgrimage inland.
Compared to some other bird species, the 100 or so miles that they cover may sound like
nothing, but remember, these birds can’t fly.
They must walk or slide the entire distance on feet designed for swimming.
To make this journey more impressive, they are not able to take the same route each year
because of the shifting nature of the ice, constantly blocking their way.
And so, each year, these birds take a new route, ending up at the same breeding grounds
they always use.
Once they arrive the females lay their eggs and then head back the 100 miles or so to
the ocean, leaving the males to hatch the chick and protect it through the extreme weather
of the Antarctic winter, where they gather together in massive huddles for warmth.
Once the female returns, the starving males finally head out to sea, and the female will
feed the chick, then the pair will take it in turns traveling the large and difficult
distance to and from the sea for around 5 months, until the chick is able to enter the
water and feed for itself.
Number 2: Caribou.
The migration of the Porcupine Caribou of North America takes place each year as a herd
or over 170 thousand animals migrate from Alaska and the Yukon towards their calving
grounds at the Brooks mountain range.
Their migration can take them on a journey of over 800 miles as they look for somewhere
safe to raise their offspring.
Traveling in such huge numbers makes it hard for their hunters, such as wolves, to pick
Ensuring that they can breed safely and continue this journey year after year.
Number 1: Salmon.
Surely one of nature’s best-known and loved migratory spectacles is the salmon run.
Each year in the autumn months, millions of Pacific and Atlantic salmon return to the
waters of their birth to spawn a new generation.
The run is exhausting, and can sometimes require travelling hundreds of miles, all upstream,
battling against rapids, waterfalls, bears and the occasional fly fishing enthusiast.
The salmon don’t eat during this journey and their bodies undergo a huge transformation
so they’re ready to spawn when they finally reach their destination.
This arduous battling ensures that only the best genes are carried through into the next
generation, as the weaker individuals usually die en route.
Some species, like the Chinook and Sockeyes, travel almost 1000 miles and climb up to 7000
feet before they finally reach their spawning grounds.
Once they reach the end of their long and difficult journey, they can finally spawn
laying billions of eggs, and, even after surviving this incredible journey to perpetuate their
species, most of them will die, with only a small handful surviving their journey back
out to sea.
Tell us about your favorite animals in the comments below!
Don’t forget to like this video and hit that subscribe button.
We’ll see you next time!
This post was previously published on YouTube.
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