What animal has the longest migration

What animal has the longest migration?

Millions of birds travel hundreds to thousands of miles between their breeding periods. Birds migrate in search of food, shelter, water, or to avoid extreme weather conditions. They usually migrate from a place with depleting resources to a place with increasing resources. So, what animal has the longest migration period?

Tiny Arctic Tern has the longest migration period among all the animals in the animal kingdom. These tiny creatures weigh 4 ounces and follow a zig-zag route between Antarctica and Greenland every year. They travel about 44,000 frequent miles a year. The Arctic Terns can travel a total distance of 2.4million kilometers in their whole lifetime.

Tiny Arctic Tern is the animal which has the longest migration.

To explore some brilliant facts about their migrations, scientists use tiny tracking devices measuring around an ounce and fit them in their bodies. Therefore they could be easily tracked.

With the help of these devices, scientists can figure out their travel routes.

It is observed that these birds take a stop for a month in the open North Atlantic Ocean, probably to fuel up for completing the rest of their journey.

Artics follow zigzagging routes on their trip back to Greenland. Rather than flying directly to Atlantica, they migrate from Antarctica to Africa to South America to the Arctic.

The reason that these species of birds migrate to such long distances is to escape from freezing grounds and to find warm comfort.

Why do birds migrate?

These birds fight a long battle travelling longer distances far away from their home. Why would they do that?

It is an obvious factor that covering such long distances isn’t only for fun. Birds travel these miles in search of resources that lack in their natural habitat.

Birds living in the Northern Hemisphere tend to migrate northward in the spring to take advantage of the abundance of nesting resources, incredible populations of insects and budding plants. As the winter approaches and the population of insects falls, they migrate again to the south.

Escaping from extreme weather conditions and in search of food and shelter, these birds migrate far away from their lands. 

Types of Migrations

Permanent Residents:

A lot of species are the permanent inhabitants of their homes. They tend to find food and shelter for them which is essential enough to keep them alive. Also, some species can bear freezing colds and do not migrate. As a result of which they become permanent residents of their homes.

Short Distance Migrants:

These species migrate to shorter distances from higher to lower elevations. When the conditions are manageable and species can survive in their conditions, they do not escape for a longer time.

Medium Distance Migrants: 

They cover distances that span from one state to many different states to explore some better conditions.

Long-Distance Migrants:

Covering out larger distances is not an easy job. This migration has evolved through the genetic nature of the species. There are around 350 species that migrate long distances in search of proper food and shelter. However, these migrations are much more complex and the competency of food also becomes tough. 

Animals with the Longest Migration

Not only birds, but many species migrate to other lands in search of food and shelter. What triggers migrations is the change in food habits, low temperatures, breeding, and harsh weather conditions. It is genetic and many animals tend to escape from their natural habitats.

Animals with the longest migration are listed below:

1. Humpback Whales, 22000Kms:

Elephant seal is one of the animal with the longest migration of up to 22,000 kms

These whales cover a distance of 22000 km and are one of the animal with the longest migration. They travel to all the oceans of the world. They spend summers near-polar climates and feed on krills, plankton, and other smaller fishes. Females along with their young ones migrate together.

2. Northern Elephant Seal, 21000Kms:

Elephant seal on the bank of sea

Northern Elephant seals are native to the coast of California. The animal covers one of the longest migration path covering a distance of 21000 kilometres every year. The seal returns to its original location from where it started by using the earth’s magnetic field. 

Male and female seals follow different paths as both demand different types of food. Males feed on small sharks while females feed on squids. In winters, they return to the coastal areas for breeding.

3. Leatherback Turtle, 20000Kms:

Leatherbcak Turtles

Leatherback turtles are one of the largest sea turtles. They cross both the Atlantic and Pacific ocean and cover a distance of 20000 kilometres incomplete migration. They travel from the end of the Pacific ocean to California and gather large amounts of jellyfishes. The species migrate in search of food and shelter and escape from some extreme weather conditions.

4. Dragon Flies, 17000Kms:

Dragon flies are one of the longest migrating animals with migration up to 17,000 kms

Dragon Flies makes the longest migrations among all the insects of the animal kingdom. They cover a distance of 17000 kilometres every year. Among 5200 different species of flies, only 50 of them migrate. They also migrate to search for food and shelter. They use the earth’s magnetic field to migrate.

5. Caribou, 5000 kilometres

Caribou in the middle of a jungle

Caribou or Reindeers are natives to Northern Parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. They migrate during summers in search of food. Caribou migrate in large herds and numbers. The animal has one of the longest migration periods and covers 70kms in a day. Their running speed is 80km/hr.

They spend their summers in vast areas of grasslands and consume 5kg of grass in a day. 

Caribou also migrates to escape cold winters to the Southern part. Their sharp claws help them in digging up their food deep down in the snow. They take 2 rounds of long migrations in a year.

6. Monarch Butterfly, 4800 Kilometres

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterflies are native to North America and impressive migrators. They are not able to bear extreme cold conditions, as a result of which they migrate to escape from winters. They migrate to Southern parts of California and Mexico to spend the winter season. These butterflies spend most of their lives migrating. They use the earth’s magnetic field during migrations.


Migrations are the way to escape from the harsh conditions of the habitat and explore comfort for better survival. Lots of species spend their time migrating from one place to another in search of food and shelter. Some of them return to their home while some continue migrating during the whole year. These migrations are rather tougher and complex but find a way and better comforts for the species. Many of them travel in large groups while some complete their journey alone. 

Every path leads you to a better destination. The strive might be bitter yet the fruit is sweeter.

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