Photograph by Giedrius Stakauskas/Alamy Stoc
From the National Geographic book Destinations of a Lifetime
Black-Browed Albatross, Falkland Islands
In the short season between hatching and first flight, 70 percent of the world’s black-browed albatross population cover cliffs on the Falklands, sitting on Dr. Seussish tufts and stretching their wings. Once they hit the air, they may not land again for months or even years.
Leatherback Sea Turtles, Trinidad
As many as 10,000 of these armored giants come ashore in Trinidad, an awesome concentration of the largest turtle species left, weighing up to 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms). A female may lay some 80 eggs a dozen times during the six-month breeding season, with the babies hatching about two months later.
Humpback Whales, Hawaii
Humpbacks summer in southeastern Alaska and winter in Maui—not a bad life. Best spots to see these leviathans with their new calves are off west Maui, around Wailea and Lahaina. Nothing like watching a 30-ton (27-tonne) mom teach her 10-ton (9-tonne) baby how to jump out of the water.
Salmon Spawn, Southeast Alaska
In late summer, millions of salmon return to their birth streams to spawn and die. At the end of each summer a quarter million fish and a hundred bears show up at Anan Wildlife Observatory, near the town of Wrangell.
Monarch Butterflies, Mexico
Millions of monarch butterflies, each not much heavier than a postage stamp, migrate up to 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) to winter in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Mexico City, covering the trees so thickly the trunks can bend under the orange-and-black wings.
More than 100 species of lemur live in Madagascar—and nowhere else on Earth. With huge eyes, long tails, and a face somewhere between a squirrel and a cat, lemurs range from the 3-foot (0.9-meter) indri to Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, which weighs about the same as an AA battery.
Porcupine Caribou Migration, Canada
In Canada’s remote Vuntut National Park, and across the border into Alaska, porcupine caribou migrate in herds so wide they trample ground flat as an interstate. Some 130,000 animals move more than 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers) annually.
Mexican Free-Tailed Bats, New Mexico
Every summer’s twilight, about a half million bats pour out of the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico. The bats swirl, orient, and then form a river of life in the sky.
Mountain Gorillas, Uganda
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to roughly half the 750 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild. Expect thick jungle, a lot of sweat, and then the miracle of going eye to eye with the very deep gaze of a watchful silverback.
Ask a cartoonist to draw a bird, and odds are it will look like a puffin, with a bright, striped beak, and unlikely flights. The Shetland Islands have seven main puffin colonies, with perhaps the most scenic at Foula, where they cover Britain’s highest cliff.
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