Gulf of Mexico Migrations

The Nature Conservancy looked at the migratory pathways, or blueways, of marine species in the Gulf of Mexico. This first-of-its-kind report maps the migratory pathways of more than two dozen species of interest and assessed the migratory areas in the Gulf of 26 species, including fish like the blue fin tuna and Atlantic tarpon, four sea turtles, two marine mammals such as sperm whale and West Indian manatee, and nine bird species like the whooping crane and wood thrush. All of these animals spend some or all of their time in the Gulf of Mexico and can travel as far as 4,000 miles in 80 days. Among the report’s key findings:

• There are four particularly significant migratory blueways.

• Blueways in the Gulf are vastly unprotected.

• Gulf species are constantly on the move.

Have a look at a few of the species we mapped in the slideshow below.


BROAD-WINGED HAWK - Buteo platypterus: Highly migratory raptor that can be found in large concentrations along some parts of the Gulf while migrating long distances between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.


BLACK SKIMMER - Rynchops niger: Flies low with the lower mandible plowing the water and snapping the bill when it contacts a fish.


BLACK RAIL - Laterallus jamaicensis: Secretive marsh bird whose status and migrations are not known well. Loss of habitat is considered its main threat.


AUDUBON’S SHEARWATER - Puffinus lherminieri: Solitary, small seabird that spends most of its life foraging in warm seas. Seldom comes near land in North America.


BULL SHARK - Carcharhinus leucas: Large coastal sharks that use estuarine habitats as nursery for their young. They can invade freshwater streams in search for food.


BLUEFIN TUNA - Thunnus thynnus: Northwestern population relies on the Gulf to spawn every spring. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill covered some of the spawning and juvenile development areas.


Bluefin Tuna Map: Observations and distribution of Bluefin Tuna.


Sperm Whale Map: Threats and corridors of sperm whales in the Gulf.


All Marine Species Map: Map of migratory corridors of marine species.



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