Behind every photograph in Art Wolfe's now-classic collection Migrations: Wildlife in Motion are the primordial stirrings that prompt animals to travel incredible distances. Revised, updated and back in print, the coffee table book portrays large animal populations in motion around the globe. Wolfe catches gaggles of geese, herds of cattle, parcels of penguins and flamboyances of flamingos in M.C. Escher-inspired patterns, the masterful photographs a reminder that cyclical migrations are some of the world's most awe-inspiring phenomena.
In full-page photos (11 x 9 inches) and double-page spreads, Wolfe's images depict animals en route between breeding grounds and wintering areas, following ancestral paths used for generations. The journeying animals have stories that are truly stunning. Readers meet the Monarch Butterfly that weighs only one-fifth of an ounce yet can fly 80 miles in a day as it instinctively migrates between southern Canada and a tiny mountain forest in Mexico. There's the Sandhill Crane that rides rising air currents to reach altitudes of 13,000 feet, its wingspan measuring seven feet. In the sea, Wolfe photographs sea-crossing walruses, seals, dolphins and some very colorful schools of fish. He visits every continent, including popular nature-watching destinations like the Masai Mara, Ngorongoro and Torres del Paine plus lesser-visited ones like Haida Gwaii.
Each of Wolfe's photos is supported by some background paragraphs by science writer Barbara Sleeper that are entertaining as well as informative. Alongside Wolfe's wonderful aerial photographs of large flocks of Lesser Flamingos in flight, readers learn how flamingos can survive on the caustic shores of Lake Natron. To supplement photos of stampeding Cape Buffaloes, Sleeper explains how the buffaloes exact revenge. Each photo is indexed by location, lighting, camera and film type so that amateur photographers can attempt to re-create their favorite shots.
Wolfe's intimate coverage of animal migration shows how delicately the natural world is balanced. He and his co-author remind us that animals rely on finely calibrated senses, catching signals from the sun, the temperature, the vegetation and other stimuli beyond human perception. As natural and mysterious as these migrations are, Wolfe's photographs powerfully demonstrate that they are too awesome and important not to protect.