The Great Migrations Blog Carnival


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As you know already, a lot of what we do here at National Geographic Channel feature the amazing works of our scientists and explorers at National Geographic Society. Our upcoming seven-part global programming event, Great Migrations, which premieres this Sunday, November 7, is a great example. With the latest tools like the tagging technology that helped track animals as big and small as elephant seals and monarch butterflies, the Great Migrations team spent nearly three years covering over 420,000 miles of animal migration across 20 countries in all seven continents! In celebration of scientists like the ones whose expertise informed this series, we invited some of the top bloggers in the science community to share their thoughts on Great Migrations as part of a one-time blog carnival (Note: A blog carnival is a group-based blogging event dedicated to a particular topic, and is published on a regular schedule, often weekly or monthly.)

Each participant in the Great Migrations blog carnival discusses the series within the context of their specialty and experiences, bringing in-depth perspective that will make you appreciate the awesome feats of animal migrations you’ll see on Great Migrations:

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Christie Wilcox at Observations of a Nerd (who won a $10,000 blogging scholarship!) says the featured stories of animals in Great Migrations are “heartbreaking…inspiring, and through it all you truly connect with the animals on a deeper level, feeling empathy for their pain and awe at their perseverance.” Christie, a Ph.D. candidate in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Hawaii, found the Science of Great Migrations episode particularly compelling, noting this episode “brings to life the history of the high-tech tags being used right now to track animals like elephant seals and monarch butterflies, and the stories of the scientists who design and use them.” Read more of Christie’s thoughts on Great Migrations at Observations of a Nerd.

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David Shiffman, also known as Mr. “WhySharksMatter,” highlights the Great Migrations of the Ocean, including the great white shark and whale shark migrations. David, a graduate student in shark conservation and a prominent voice in online shark advocacy, acknowledges “it was nice to see sharks on TV not in the context of shark attacks, but in the context of their incredible navigation abilities.” He also points to the online resources tied to the series – including the Science of Great Migrations hub and the Teacher Resources page – to emphasize the importance of promoting science and conservation rather than fear. Read more of David’s thoughts at Southern Fried Science under WhySharksMatter, and look for his upcoming book, “Why Sharks Matter: Using New Environmentalism to Show The Economic And Ecological Importance of Sharks, The Threats They Face, and How You Can Help.”

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Dr. Dan Brooks, the curator of vertebrate zoology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, sees many correlations between the featured animals in Great Migrations and the components at the Frensley/Graham Hall of African Wildlife at the Museum, which he helped build. Referring to Born to Move,” the episode that kicks off the series this Sunday, he states, “the need to migrate (move) is ingrained in each featured animal as a means to survival.” Though many of the migrations stories inevitably involve perishing of some of the animals, Dr. Brooks reminds us of the resilience of newborn wildebeest in the Serengeti, who, “born within several weeks at the start of the rainy seasons and, within minutes, are able to stand and run, traveling with the herd as they migrate.” Read more of Dr. Brooks’ thought on Great Migrations at the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s Beyond Bones blog.

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Kevin Zelnio
at Deep Sea News watched Great Migrations with two of the most important critics – his 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter – who respectively declared the monarch butterfly and red crab stories as their favorites. In fact, Kevin’s son is still asking to see the crabs again, a couple of weeks after first watching it (Note: Filming and witnessing of the red crab migration on Christmas Island was a
childhood dream come true for Great Migrations series producer, David Hamlin.) Kevin, who is pursuing his Ph.D. in Marine Biology at University of North Carolina, Wilmington, calls the Science of Great Migrations episode a “hidden gem” that “wonderfully showed the human side of scientists and the series overall tells comprehensive stories that “paid homage to the decades of science that went into all the observations animal behavior.” Read more of Kevin’s thoughts on Great Migrations at Deep Sea News.

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GrrlScientist, an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who discusses evolution, ethology, and ecology over at Punctuated Equilibrium on the Guardian science blogs, spotted one of her colleagues, Martin Wikelski among the scientists whose works helped make Great Migrations possible. (Note: An Emerging Explorer at National Geographic Society, Martin developed the micro GPS tracking devices that tracked the Monarch butterfly migration.) GrrlScientist notes the manmade, as well as natural perils the migratory animals face on their journey, including the Sudanese civil wars that raged in the midst of the white-eared cobs habitat, and the cliffs of Falkland Islands rockhopper penguins tackle on a daily basis. She was particularly taken by the story of zebra migration, which you’ll just have to catch during the Race to Survive episode of Great Migrations. Read more of GrrlScientist’s thoughts on Great Migrations at Punctuated Equilibrium.

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Last but not least, Brian Switek, who writes about evolution, paleontology, natural history, and the history of science at Laelaps on Wired.com’s science blog network, observes that it is crucial to remember the human influence on migratory animals and how manmade development is squeezing these animals out of their natural path to survival. He points to the plight of the American pronghorn as featured in the Race to Survive episode and adds, “during a time when conservation messages can be a tough sell for documentary producers I think National Geographic should be applauded for taking such steps to put animal migrations in the context of the world we are quickly altering.” Read more of Brian’s thoughts on Great Migrations at Laelaps, and check out his book “Written in Stone” in bookstores near you.

We’d like to thank the science bloggers for taking time to check out Great Migrations and contributing their unique perspectives to this one-time blog carnival. Join us this Sunday, November 7 to begin your journey with Great Migrations on National Geographic Channel!