Humpback breaks record for migration

[19 October, 2010] The world record for oceanic migrational travel by any mammal has just been broken by a lone female humpback whale, after she was recorded swimming over 9,800 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.

Initially spotted by researchers in Brazilian waters in August of 1999, the humpback was amazingly caught on film by a tourist on a commercial whale watching tour in 2001 off the eastern coast of Madagascar.

Whale researchers spotted the photos on the internet and made the connection by the humpback's distinct tail markings, which like a human fingerprint is different and unique to each individual humpback.

Humpbacks have been known for their long-distance migrations, but it has been a commonly held belief that their migratory patterns fell between northern and southern latitudes.

It is still unknown if this recent finding has challenged these long-held beliefs or if the humpback whale in question had been following prey, responding to distant calls of other humpbacks, or simply wandered off course.

  • NSW Government
  • National Parks & Wildlife Service NSW