Move as Millions

“Migration is the ultimate drama,” writes K. M. Kostyal. It is “the elemental story of instinct and survival.”

There are many reasons why animals migrate; some of them are better understood than others. Kostyal, a former National Geographic editor, explores a few in her beautiful new book Great Migrations, which was published in October as a companion to the National Geographic Channel series which aired this month. The book focuses on thirty-three species from around the world – everything from phytoplankton to sperm whales. In addition to the eye-catching National Geographic photographs you would expect – the forests filled with monarch butterflies and the in-your-face shots of gaping sharks – Great Migrations also contains information about each animal including facts about habitats, mating patterns, and group social structure.

Sperm whales. Red crabs. Army ants. Mali elephants. Tundra swans. The range of life forms covered here may seem eclectic at first glance but that only serves Kostyal’s point better: it doesn’t matter whether you’re a proboscis monkey or a pronghorn antelope. If you want to stay alive, you have to move fast and fight hard. Dramatic is exactly right.

If you missed Great Migrations on Nat Geo, you can still watch it on DVD, which are now for sale at National Geographic’s online store. The book (along with a children’s edition) is available here.

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