Monday, 30 November 2015

Humpback Whales Make Migration Pit Stops at Underwater Mountains

by Charles Q. Choi, Live Science Contributor | November 27, 2015 02:41pm ET

Underwater mountains are key stopovers in the migratory routes of an endangered population of humpback whales in the South Pacific, new research shows.

Humpback whales are found in all of the world's oceans, from icy to tropical waters. They migrate farther than any other mammal, traveling great distances from their summer feeding grounds to their winter breeding and birthing grounds. In fact, a record-setting female humpback was recently discovered swimming from Brazil to Madagascar, a voyage of at least 6,090 miles (9,800 kilometers).

Many aspects of humpback migrations remain mysterious, as they mostly occur far away from humans. Previous research had revealed that humpback whales migrating from breeding grounds off the east coast of South America and the west coast of Africa swim in nearly straight lines in the Atlantic Ocean without noticeable stops and in relatively narrow corridors. Similar migration patterns were seen among humpbacks migrating from breeding grounds off Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

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