Why study migratory pathways?
Migration is an adaptation with origins in natural selection. Species migrate to fulfill essential needs: to find food, reproduce, or seek out a more habitable location. The Gulf of Mexico hosts a wealth of active migration--70% of migratory fish, five species of sea turtles, one-third of the bird species in North America, and most of the Gulf’s marine mammals migrate through this ecosystem. This level of biodiversity is critical to the economic and ecological health of the entire Gulf region.
The Nature Conservancy is studying migratory pathways to identify key habitats in the life cycles of marine species in the Gulf, the critical regions connecting them, and the threats migratory species encounter that can impede migration. These pathways are necessary for species to complete important life events such as nesting and feeding, making them vital to their survival.