fish migration

The seasonal movement of animals from one part of the world to another is seen throughout the animal kingdom, including many marine creatures. Whether it’s to find areas of high productivity to feed in or returning to their breeding grounds to find a mate and have their young, many marine animals travel vast distances throughout the year. We have compiled a list of five of our favourite animals that undergo these huge migrations.

1. Humpback Whales

Humpback whales undertake one of the longest migrations of any marine mammal. In the summer months humpbacks spend their time in their feeding grounds around the poles, where there are large amounts of food available to them. After they have filled up, they won’t eat much during their journey, they head to their breeding grounds which are situated in warmer waters around the equator. This journey can take up to two months because humpbacks aren’t particularly fast swimmers!

2. Sardines

In terms of biomass, the sardine run may be the biggest migration in the animal kingdom. Every year, prompted by a change in temperature, billions of these fish that have spawned in the Agulhas Bank off southern Africa travel north up the coast. Their shoals can reach up to 7km long and attract a large number of predators such as dolphins, sharks, and whales.

3. Bluefin Tuna

The Atlantic’s top predator, the bluefin tuna, migrates from the waters around Japan where they spawn across the Pacific Ocean to the coast of California. This journey takes them through water with temperatures as low as 9 degrees Celsius, however as one of the few species of warm-blooded fish, this doesn’t deter the tuna!

4. Arctic Terns

These seabirds undergo the longest migration of any animal on earth, up to 44,100 miles! To take advantage of the summer which occur at opposite times of the year, Arctic terns travel from pole to pole. Starting at their breeding ground in the Arctic they follow the sun down to the Antarctic where they feed on fish and krill.

5. Zooplankton

Although this migration is often overlooked, it is one of the largest synchronised movements of animals that call the ocean their home. The diel vertical migration is the movement of small aquatic animals from the deeper zones of the oceans up to the sunlight zone. This occurs at night-time when the risk of predation is lower and food availability is higher, with the zooplankton returning to deeper water as the sun returns.

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