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Navigation mammals

About mammals > Sensory systems mammal

Some species of mammals make long-distance migrations, typically repeated annual movements between summer and winter ranges. Gray whales (Eschrichtiidae), bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus), right whales (Eubalaena species), and humpback whales make predictable, long-range migrations between summer feeding areas and winter breeding areas. Manatees (Trichechus manatus) make shorter seasonal migrations up and down the east coast of Florida. Other migrating mammals include some species of bats, caribou (Rangifer tarandus), and antelopes that regularly move between summer and winter ranges.

The navigational cues used by migrating mammals appear to vary. Over shorter distances, perhaps first traveled with their mothers or group members, young may learn the landmarks that guide them from one place to another. This appears to be true of manatees off the east coast of Florida. Over longer distances, geomagnetic cues may be more important. However, compared to the situation in migrating birds, relatively little is known about the mechanisms of navigation in mammals.

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