Aurecon - Global Expert Consulting Engineers Aurecon is the global leader in consulting engineering.

Aurecon calendar banner


A global view of our moving world


One of the most well-known animal migrations in the world is the annual trek by almost 2 million East African wildebeest (also known as gnus) from Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve. The start of this migration of wildebeest, which is joined by zebra, impala and eland, as well as Grant’s and Thomson’s gazelles, is determined by the yearly rainfall pattern, taking place as early as May and continuing until October.

In their quest to move towards greener pastures and drinkable surface water, the wildebeest face numerous obstacles, the biggest being crossing the Mara River teeming with crocodiles preying on crossing herds. 
A heard of wildebeest on the move 
Golden Jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake, Palau 

Golden Jellyfish

Eil Malk Island in Palau, western Pacific, is home to Jellyfish Lake – a marine lake populated by both golden and moon jellyfish. The golden jellyfish, in particular, spend their days following the sun’s rays by migrating horizontally across the lake using jet-like propulsion. They do not drift pointlessly around in the water as is commonly thought; they start to move from the west of the lake where the sun rises in the morning and follow the sun’s movement to the middle of the lake stopping just short of its shady shores.

This is to, firstly, avoid anemones (their biggest predator that lives in these shady areas) and, secondly, to soak up as much direct sunlight as possible, needed to provide nutrients for the algae-like organisms that are found in their tissues.

Adélie Penguins

Adélie penguins are one of only two penguin species that breed on the Antarctic continent and is the only penguin that breeds this far south of the Antarctic Convergence. Depending on how far south an Adélie penguin lives, the penguin will typically travel approximately 13 000 km each year. The Adélies move north in search of light as well as open water for winter foraging.

While migrating north, these flightless birds take advantage of the ‘vehicles’ that nature offers by moving along with the ice flows and ocean currents. 
 Adélie Penguins marching in a row
 Two Caribou


The North American caribou (or reindeer in Europe), are nomadic animals and extremely large numbers can be found spread across the Arctic tundra. Herds of between 50 000 and 500 000 travel up to 5 000 km north each year during spring as summer emerges to find the nourishing feeding grounds of the tundra – resulting in this migration being one of the furthest and largest land mammal migrations. Normally very young calves and cows depart first, followed by older calves and males, travelling between 20 and 60 km each day. 

Humpback Whales

Humpback whales live near polar coastlines where they eat plankton and small fish in the summer and fast by living off their fat reserves during the winter. Each year, these whales migrate to warmer breeding waters near the Equator, typically migrating up to 25 000 km each year. Young whales swim near their mothers and they are often seen using their flippers to touch each other, which appear to be gestures of familiarity and affection.

North Pacific, Atlantic, and Southern Ocean humpbacks all complete the annual migration, however the Indian Ocean humpback whale population doesn’t migrate as this trip is blocked by the Indian Ocean’s northern coastline.

 Divers with pod of humpback whales
 Monarch butterflies on a branch

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterflies migrate to winter roosting spots in warmer climates because they can’t survive long, cold periods. They are the only butterflies that make extremely long (up to 4 800 km), two-way migration trips each year. An amazing aspect of this migration is that the next generation of monarch butterflies travel to the same spots – often the exact same tree – each year.

The annual migration occurs in late-summer and autumn from the southern regions of Canada and north America to Mexico and some southern parts of California that remain warm throughout the year. 
To top