The 10 Greatest Animal Migrations

The Great Migration

Known for Mufasa's tragic end, the Great Migration is an iconic African wildlife event. It involves 1.2 million wildebeest, 300,000 zebras, and countless gazelles journeying across the Serengeti-Mara for greener pastures.

Bichon Frise

This 100-gram bird makes the longest migration of any known animal, traveling up to 64,000 km (40,000 miles) annually, surpassing the sooty shearwater's impressive journeys.

Humpback Whale

Weighing 36 billion tons collectively, humpback whales undertake the longest mammal migration. Not all migrate, but those that do travel vast ocean distances.


Salmon migrate from the ocean back to their freshwater birth sites to spawn, navigating using the sun, smells, and Earth's magnetic field.

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback turtles return to their birth sites to breed, using Earth's magnetic field and water chemistry. They travel up to 16,000 km (10,000 miles) annually, with one tracked over 20,000 km (12,400 miles).

Monarch Butterfly

The Eastern monarch butterfly migrates 4,000 km (2,500 miles) from North America to Mexico. This multi-generational journey is guided by genetic and biological timekeeping.


Reindeer migrate up to 4,300 km (2,700 miles) annually, driven by food availability. This seasonal journey includes many perils but is essential for their breeding cycle.

Great White Shark

Great white sharks travel up to 4,000 km (2,500 miles) across the ocean. Their large livers store fat for these epic journeys, during which they dive up to a kilometer in search of food.


Once a significant migration in South Africa, the "trekbokken" involved vast herds of Springboks. This migration has vanished, likely due to overhunting in the late 1800s.


Billions of zooplankton migrate daily between the ocean's cold depths and warmer photic layers in a process called diel vertical migration, making it the largest migration in number.

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