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Great Migrations - Humpback Whale 1 oz Silver Coin Released

Humpback Whale 1 oz Fine Silver Coin

One of nature's most impressive wonders is displayed each year, when populations of animals start their great annual migration, covering vast distances in search for food, mating partners or shelter.

"Humpbacks arguably make the longest documented migration of any mammal," says marine mammal research biologist John Calambokidis, who has studied the whales since 1986. NZ Mint is therefore thrilled to release this magnificent Humpback whale coin as part of their Great Migrations coin collection.

Humpback Whale 1 oz Silver CoinHumpback whales spend their summer months feeding in polar waters, but with the onset of winter, food becomes scarce and the water becomes too cold. With a barrel-shaped body and pectoral fins protruding like oversized wings, the Humpback whale is not designed for speed. Yet, they migrate an average of 2,500km to tropical waters to breed and give birth, then make the same journey back. With almost no rest along the way, they can cover over 1,600km per month.

Although similar migrations of the same species occur in the northern and southern hemispheres, the two populations never interbreed, even where they use the same equatorial breeding waters, because the northward and southward convergences on tropical waters occur six months apart. How they know where to travel during their migrations still has scientists stumped.

Young calves making their first migratory journey back to Antarctica are vulnerable to natural and unnatural forces. They are the most likely to fall prey to sharks and Killer whales and the most likely to die of exhaustion. The calves manage to conserve their energy by riding the slipstream of their mother's wake. The young calves position themselves just behind their mother's widest diameter and just below and beside her dorsal fin.

Mark Simmonds, director of science at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, notes: "It has this extraordinary lifestyle with its breeding grounds in one place and its feeding grounds far away." According to Mr Simmonds a recent study ends the controversy over which whale species travels the furthest. The Grey whale's migration from Mexico to the Arctic is also an impressive voyage. Blue whales - the largest animals on the planet - also migrate thousands of miles, with the North Atlantic population moving from Arctic feeding grounds to waters off the eastern seaboard of the US. But none of these animals have been shown to travel as far as the Humpbacks.

With a worldwide limited mintage of only 3,000 coins, this would make a special gift for animal enthusiasts and coin collectors. Start or add to your Great Migrations coin collection today!

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