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5 remarkable animal migrations in Canada



Canada is host to many remarkable species; some of these species are migratory, which means they travel from one region to another, usually at the same time of year. Some of these species travel huge distances to get to where they want to go and they usually follow the same path from Point A to Point B.

We’re not always sure why they go, or how they find their way, but we can tell you some of the best places to catch a peek!

Beluga whales — Tadoussac, Quebec 

A pod of beluga whales in the ocean.

Most beluga whales live in the arcitc, but the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga whales are a population of belugas that live in the St. Lawrence Estuary (an estuary is the place where a river meets the sea and freshwater mixes with salt water) and St. Lawrence Gulf.

In the winter, these belugas prefer the northwest area of the St. Lawrence Gulf because there is less ice cover. But in the summer they migrate through the estuary where they can feed on fish and plankton, raise their babies and socialize.

Monarch butterflies — Point Pelee, Ont.

Four monarch butterflies on a branch.
Daniel Aguilar/Reuters

Every fall the monarch butterfly travels almost 5,000 kilometres to the forests of Mexico, where they cluster together on the branches of oyamel fir trees in staggering numbers to stay safe for the winter. In the spring, they start the journey north again to their feeding and breeding grounds in Canada and the United States.

It is one of the longest insect migrations on earth, and take two or even three generations (in butterfly years) to complete the round trip.

Barren-ground caribou  — Northern Canada

A single barren-caribou stands on grassy lands.
Photo by Alfred Cook licensed CC BY 2.0

Every year, thousands of caribou journey through Northern Canada in one of the largest mass migrations on earth. In the spring, caribou head north towards the arctic tundra — which is a vast, treeless area covered in permafrost — to forage for food and have their babies.

In the fall, when they have eaten as much as they can, they head south to warmer regions and then start all over again in the spring!

American white pelican — Saskatoon, Sask.

An American white pelican flying over open water.
David McNew/Getty Images

For Saskatoon residents, the arrival of the American white pelican on the South Saskatchewan River means that spring has finally arrived! The birds spend their winters in the southern U.S. and Mexico, and make a two- to three-week-long journey to Canada in the spring so they can breed and gorge themselves on fish.

Polar bears — Churchill, Man.

Two polar bear cubs follow their mom.

Nicknamed “The Polar Bear Capital of the World,” Churchill, Manitoba, lies on the polar bear’s migratory path — which is the route they take to get to where they want to go — from the tundra to the seal-hunting grounds on the ice that forms over Hudson Bay in winter. 

In October and November every year, bear-lovers from all over the world travel to the remote northern town to catch a glimpse of these magnificent animals — from the safety of a Tundra Buggy, of course!