Scientists have discovered that humpback whales swim thousands of miles to mate.

Sci­en­tists ana­lyzed a data­base of more than 450,000 images of whales in the wild to track the ani­mals. They found that some swam thou­sands of miles dur­ing the mat­ing season.

Two dis­tinc­tive males, which could be rec­og­nized by mark­ings on their tails, were record­ed at two pop­u­lar mat­ing loca­tions with­in two months of each other.

The first was off the west coast of Mex­i­co and the sec­ond was near Hawaii, about 3,700 miles (5,955 kilo­me­ters) apart.

The tim­ing sug­gests the whales swam faster than their typ­i­cal cruis­ing speed of 2.5 miles (5 kilo­me­ters) per hour to get there.

“Our first reac­tion was, ‘You’ve got to be kid­ding me! “, James Dar­ling of the Whale Trust Maui in Hawaii and author of the study told New Sci­en­tist magazine.

“They may just be trav­el­ing on the ocean as if it were their own back­yard,” he said.

The find­ings were pub­lished Wednes­day in the peer-reviewed jour­nal Biol­o­gy Letters.

North Pacif­ic hump­back whales tend to spend their sum­mers around Cana­da and Alas­ka before mov­ing to breed­ing grounds near Mex­i­co and Hawaii in winter.

They do not mate for life and it is thought that females seek a new mate each breed­ing season.

Sci­en­tists pre­vi­ous­ly assumed that they would choose a mat­ing site. But, thanks to dis­tinc­tive tail mark­ings, sci­en­tists saw that one male had trav­eled 2,824 miles (4,545 km) from Maui, Hawaii, to the Revil­lagige­do arch­i­pel­ago in Mex­i­co between Feb­ru­ary 23 and April 17, 2006.

The sec­ond made the reverse jour­ney from Guer­rero, Mex­i­co, to Maui between Feb­ru­ary 16 and April 5, 2018, a jour­ney 3,693 miles (5,944 km) long.

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