National Geographic

Think Your Commute Is Bad? Don't Tell That To A Sperm Whale

Try traveling more than a million miles in your lifetime like a sperm whale does. (That's like swimming round-trip between New York City and L.A. 150 times.) Did you know that the monarch butterfly's annual journey across North America can take four generations to complete? Or that golden jellyfish of Palau race toward the sun every day?

I just learned that from a news release. But apparently Alec Baldwin is going to tell you about these things, and more, in an upcoming special on the National Geographic Channel, airing tomorrow. According to the release: "The National Geographic Great Migrations team spent two and a half years in the field, traveling 420,000 miles across 20 countries and all seven continents to bring this ambitious production to television."

To accompany the seven-part series, Geographic also published a book titled, "Great Migrations: Epic Animal Journeys." They shared a few pictures of pilgrimages with us, but you can see more on their site.

  • There is a dwindling, rogue band of pronghorn. An estimated 200 of them are left to make the biannual trek across northwestern Wyoming — the longest land migration made by any New World animal outside the Arctic.
    Hide caption
    There is a dwindling, rogue band of pronghorn. An estimated 200 of them are left to make the biannual trek across northwestern Wyoming — the longest land migration made by any New World animal outside the Arctic.
    Joe Riis/National Geographic
  • The whale shark, largest of all fish, feeds on some of the sea's smallest organisms. With their enormous mouths open, they suck in and strain out plankton and zooplankton. Whale sharks migrate to the Belize Barrier Reef to feast on snapper eggs.
    Hide caption
    The whale shark, largest of all fish, feeds on some of the sea's smallest organisms. With their enormous mouths open, they suck in and strain out plankton and zooplankton. Whale sharks migrate to the Belize Barrier Reef to feast on snapper eggs.
    Colin Parker/National Geographic
  • Golden jellyfish of Palau follow the sun in a daily migration that feeds their passengers and ensures their own survival.
    Hide caption
    Golden jellyfish of Palau follow the sun in a daily migration that feeds their passengers and ensures their own survival.
    'Great Migrations: Epic Animal Journeys'/National Geographic
  • Monarch butterflies clump by the millions on oyamel trees in Mexican forests. Before migrating, they drop from the trees and begin a giant mating spree.
    Hide caption
    Monarch butterflies clump by the millions on oyamel trees in Mexican forests. Before migrating, they drop from the trees and begin a giant mating spree.
    Stephanie Atlas/National Geographic
  • Ant colonies of 500,000 to two million individuals operate as if they are the cells of a single organism. The workers' duties include carrying the colony's pre-adult pupae while migrating unfathomable distances.
    Hide caption
    Ant colonies of 500,000 to two million individuals operate as if they are the cells of a single organism. The workers' duties include carrying the colony's pre-adult pupae while migrating unfathomable distances.
    Mark Moffett/Minden Pictures/National Geographic
  • A wildebeest herd stampedes across the dusty plains of Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
    Hide caption
    A wildebeest herd stampedes across the dusty plains of Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
    'Great Migrations: Epic Animal Journeys'/National Geographic
  • The instinct to breed drives salmon back to their birthplace, guided by their sense of smell. When they hit obstacles — like rapids and waterfalls — their determined biological drive keeps them going.
    Hide caption
    The instinct to breed drives salmon back to their birthplace, guided by their sense of smell. When they hit obstacles — like rapids and waterfalls — their determined biological drive keeps them going.
    Paul Nicklen/National Geographic
  • After wintering as far from the Falklands as South Africa, black-browed albatrosses form a colony and breeding birds groom each other's neck feathers.
    Hide caption
    After wintering as far from the Falklands as South Africa, black-browed albatrosses form a colony and breeding birds groom each other's neck feathers.
    Frans Lanting/National Geographic
  • A zebra calf stays close to its mother for months, recognizing her by voice, smell and pattern of stripes.
    Hide caption
    A zebra calf stays close to its mother for months, recognizing her by voice, smell and pattern of stripes.
    Marc Moritsch/National Geographic
  • To the walrus, ice is life. The oxygen-breathing marine mammals rely on ice as a place to rest, to give birth, to nurse and to migrate. As ice disappears, their annual migration has becoming a race against time and distance, depth and disaster.
    Hide caption
    To the walrus, ice is life. The oxygen-breathing marine mammals rely on ice as a place to rest, to give birth, to nurse and to migrate. As ice disappears, their annual migration has becoming a race against time and distance, depth and disaster.
    Paul Nicklen/National Geographic

1 of 10

View slideshow i

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.