There are two kinds of animals in this world; those that can bring what they need to where they are and those that need to travel for survival. For the most part, humans belong to the first group. We plant ourselves in one place, control our climate one way or another, and make our food-supply requirements work with our location. Meaning that, for example, New Yorkers can sit in their heated apartments in the winter, eating lush produce flown in from the south. But lacking in the art of HVAC and imported food, many other animals need to follow the weather and food to survive. (Of course there are nomadic people who do the same, but you get my point.)
There is something so simple and poetic about animal migration; in essence, it defies politics, borders, and xenophobia. Humans get in the way with our dumb walls and habitat fragmentation, but there is nonetheless a purity to the concept. While some animal migrations are grueling, it all speaks to going with the flow of the planet rather than making the planet do our bidding. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting – in the kind of romanticism that I may occasionally slip into – that all humans should become nomadic. I enjoy my heated NYC home and my freezer full of summer tomatoes come February. But it’s profound to see animals working with what nature affords and making it work.
The animated globe below shows this to subtle yet spectacular effect, revealing animal movements across the globe based on data shared on Movebank, a public online database of animal tracking data hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. The data was added by over 11,000 researchers from around the world. It includes the routes of around 150 species that cover at least 310 miles (500 kilometers) in one direction for at least 45 days. The animation is based on over a decade of research, condensed into one synthetic year.
As The Verge points out, “The information can help us understand how animals hunt, how they are responding to climate change, or habitat fragmentation…” I’d also add that it can help us understand the simple beauty of working in harmony with the planet instead of maxing it out.
Via The Verge