Every year, countless species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles embark upon epic journeys that often span thousands of miles.
For some creatures, migration is about avoiding the harsh conditions of winter. For others, it’s about finding food or returning to an ancestral mating ground.
The longest known migration in the animal world is that of the arctic tern. A recent study revealed that the 4-ounce birds make a zig-zagging migration from Greenland all the way down to Antarctica that covers about 44,000 miles.
Arctic terns can live up to 30 years or more – it’s estimated that the average arctic tern travels a total distance of 1.5 million miles during its lifetime. That’s like traveling to the moon and back three times!
Check out some pictures of epic animal migrations below!
“50 Shades of Ray” (Mobula Rays, Baja, Mexico) – Credit: Eduardo Lopez Negrete/National Geographic
White Pelicans, Mississippi – Credit: Annie Griffiths/National Geographic
African Water Buffalo, Okavango River Delta, Botswana – Credit: Luo Hong
“Florida Blizzard” (White Ibises) – Credit: James Shadle
Lake Tahoe Kokanee salmon in Taylor Creek, California – Credit: Joe Chan/Flickr
Walruses from the Svalbard, a Norweigan archipelago in the Arctic Ocean – Credit: Paul Nicklen, National Geographic
Pink flamingoes in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Yucatan Peninsula – Credit: Paul Nicklen, National Geographic
Canadian pronghorn antelopes – Credit: Joel Berger
Monarch butterflies in Zitacuaro, Mexico – Credit: Jeremy Hance
Check out more awesome photos over at Bored Panda!