Life is a highway for billions of creatures that live, breed, eat, and play in the ocean.
- One-tonne leatherback turtles follow warm Gulf Stream currents from the Caribbean Sea to Canada's Atlantic coast each summer.
- Narwhals trek from the open, offshore waters of Baffin Bay to the narrow fiords and straits of the Arctic Archipelago as soon as the ice breaks up in spring.
- Harlequin ducks leave behind the cold comfort of their winter homes off the East and West coasts and head inland to breed along rushing, tumbling mountain streams.
- Salmon, born in rivers and lakes, swim thousands of kilometres out to sea, only to return years later to breed on their original spawning grounds.
These seasonal voyages, or migrations, occur so that living things can stay alive.
- Marine creatures may migrate to places that are warmer, have more food, or provide safe havens to bear their young.
- Many species, such as whooping cranes, salmon, and sea ducks, rely on both ocean and inland habitats to complete their migrations.
- Their survival depends on strong links in long, unbroken chains of feeding and resting habitats.
If a single habitat is damaged by industry, agriculture, or another human impact, a link in the migratory chain is broken.
- Often, the habitats most important to migratory species are the ones hardest hit by human activities.
- That's why many marine migrants never arrive at their destinations.
- And that's why we must try to protect every beach, mud-flat, river, and prairie pothole — every link in every chain — from coast to coast, from the top to the bottom of the Western Hemisphere.
You can make a real difference for marine migrants by doing projects and by informing yourself and others about the challenges facing these species.
- Learn more about migratory species and how their survival depends on healthy habitats.
- Do any of these migrants travel through your part of the world? If not, find out about one that does. Working alone or in a small group, get information from a wide range of sources. Start with field guides, books, the internet, and nature magazines. See "Monitor Marine Migrants" for tips on how to keep track of ocean life on the move.
- After learning everything you can about your species, create a portfolio to share with your classmates. Include a report on your chosen creature, a map of its migratory routes, and drawings of the animal in its habitats at both ends of its journey and in between. Depict all four seasons in your drawings and include other species that share the same habitats.
© Canadian Wildlife Federation
All rights reserved. Web site content may be electronically copied or printed for classroom, personal and non-commercial use. All other users must receive written permission.