Explore amazing animal migrations

30 March 2009

What animal flies as high as an aeroplane? Answer: the bar-headed goose. It regularly cruises at an astonishing 9,000m (29,500 feet) as it migrates through Central Asia each year.

This is just one of the extraordinary voyages revealed in the Natural History Museum book, Animal Migration, new this month.

Animal Migration book cover

Animal Migration book cover

The book is lavishly illustrated with more than 300 illustrations, maps and photographs and is checked and approved by Museum scientists.

Author Ben Hoare explores the mysteries of animal migration over land, through oceans and by air and traces in detail 50 remarkable journeys, including those by species as diverse as polar bears, wildebeest, hummingbirds, iguanas, dragonflies, bats and sharks.

What is migration?

Animals carry out an amazing variety of journeys, but it can be tricky establishing which are really migrations.

Ben explains, 'The reality is that there is no universally accepted definition of migration.'

'It is not always easy to decide which are true migrations. The problem is that animals carry out all kinds of different movements – short and long, seasonal and daily, regular and once-in-a-lifetime, highly predictable and seemingly random.'

Ben gets to the bottom of the different types of migration and why animals migrate – whether as part of a mass migration like the monarch butterfly or on a lonely odyssey like the blue whale.

How migration works

In the book, Ben shows how migration works, including the astonishingly accurate direction-finding systems that many animals have evolved. 

Some follow the sun and the stars, while others use sounds, smells, tastes, wave patterns, differences in temperature or even the tiny variations in Earth’s magnetic field.

Ben looks in detail at the survival strategies of migratory animals and also discusses the growing threats they face.

The author

Natural history expert, Ben Hoare, has contributed to many books and encyclopedias, including several best-selling reference titles and books for children.

His work has also appeared in BBC Wildlife and Birdwatch magazines and on the BBC Love Earth website.

Recent travels

Ben recently travelled to the Falkland Islands to see some of the planet’s greatest animal travellers of all – albatrosses. 

'These spectacular birds turn the relentless gale-force winds of the Southern Hemisphere to their advantage, by capturing the ocean’s energy to soar for hours on end,' says Ben. 

'Their flying skills are simply sensational. Albatrosses are the ultimate long-distance nomads.'

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