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article imageHumpback Whales boast the longest mammal migration

By Chris V. Thangham     Apr 5, 2007 in Environment
Researchers document humpback whales travel a distance of 8300 kilometers (5160 miles) from Costa Rica to Antartic.
Each winter, humpback whales travel from the Antarctic to the northern tropics to find warm water in which to raise their young, researchers have discovered. The migration is the longest for any mammal ever recorded.
Whales are known to travel long distances, but are yet to be documented officially, so researchers Kristin Rasmussen at Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, Washington, US, and her colleagues wanted to document the migration of humpback whales. They photographed the tails of humpbacks wintering off the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. From their individual tail patterns they identified seven of the same animals, when the Humpback whales and their calves returned to the Antarctic, a journey of 8300 Kilometer (5160 mile) trip in 161 days.
Kristin and her team, recorded the sea surface temperature for the sites (using Satellite data) where humpbacks spent their winter. They found humpbacks spend their wintering area where waters have temperature between
21°C and 28°C are found. The reason the whales spend in warm regions is to conserve energy in the cold regions of Antarctic, where they have to use more body heat to keep the whales warm.
Other researchers claim Gray whales travel the longest routes, from Mexico to the Arctic estimated at about 7600 km (4700 miles). But so fart there has been no documentation for this migratory route, some case the same set of whales may or may not make the entire trip, so the distance is in doubt. Till they record the migration route of grey whales, the migratory route of humpback whales will be the longest documented.
Rasmussen also said the proposals to hunt humpback whales such as Japan's decision to catch 50 humpbacks each year for scientific research reasons, will harm the humpback whale population. The whales don't understand political boundaries, killing them at one region will affect their population the entire region and will see a rapid decline of their population.
It is amazing to know Humpback Whales travel long distances, hope the Countries will work together to stop the hunting ban of humpback whales.
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