It’s been revealed that whales are migrating to the tropics, and the reason has been eventually discovered.
Just in case you didn’t know, whales are undertaking some of the longest migrations on the planet, and sometimes they even swim thousands of miles to breed in the tropics.
The question that experts have been asking themselves so far was why – to give birth or to find food?
Whales migrate to lower latitudes
Science Daily addresses a new paper that’s been published in the Marine Mammal Science, where experts propose that whales that live in polar waters are migrating to low latitudes in order to keep their skin healthy.
“I think people have not given skin molt due consideration when it comes to whales, but it is an important physiological need that could be met by migrating to warmer waters,” according to Robert Pitman, lead author of the new paper.
It’s worth noting that he’s also a marine ecologist with Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute.
Also, more than 100 years ago, whalers have recognized that most of the whales that forage in high latitudes were migrating to the tropics for calving and experts did not agree on the reason.
Large whales should be able to give birth in frigid polar waters and due to reduced feeding opportunities that they have in the tropics, most of them fast during the migration.
Why are whales migrating?
That’s why this question came up: why bother?
The online publication mentioned above notes “All birds and mammals regularly shed their skin, fur, or feathers in a process known as molting. Pitman and his co-authors propose that whales foraging in the freezing waters of Antarctica conserve body heat by diverting blood flow away from their skin.”
It’s been revealed that this would reduce the regeneration of skin cells and halt the normal sloughing of skin.
The migration to warmer waters would allow whales to revive their skin metabolism.