Marine Migration: Humpback Whale (3D)

Marine Migration: Humpback Whale (3D) thumbnail


According to many sources, a female humpback whale traveled over 10,000 km between breeding sites. She traveled from the reefs of Brazil to the African island of Madagascar, which researchers believe is the longest single trip ever undertaken by a mammal.

Humpback whales are powerful swimmers, and the 40-ton mammals typically can travel up to 5,000 miles in their trips from the North Atlantic and the Antarctic to more temperate areas around the equator. They're known for their eerie songs which travel huge distances underwater and whose precise function remains a mystery. They're also cherished by whale-watchers for their spectacular out-of-the-water jumps, called breaching.

It was by browsing photo-sharing site Flickr that scientists found a photo of this particular humpback, taken by a Norwegian tourist from a whale-watching vessel off the coast of Madagascar in 2001. The photo had been taken with a film camera and the negative sat undeveloped in a drawer for years. Eventually, it was scanned and posted to the Web, where it was spotted and added to the catalog.

They were able to match the Flickr photo to a picture of the whale taken two years earlier in Abrolhos, an area of small volcanic islands off the Brazilian coast. The key to identifying humpback whales is in their tails!

Read more about this amazing feat in this scientific paper. Learn more about Humpback Whales.