Most nature-lovers are well acquainted with the monarch—the best-known butterfly species in the country—and can even tell you the bare-bone facts of its annual migration from Canada to Mexico.
But while these facts are common knowledge today, this wasn't always the case. In fact, it took Canadian zoologist Dr. Fred Urquhart 40 years to solve the mystery of where these butterflies go in the winter.
A new IMAX film details the story of how Urquhart and his wife, Norah, developed a method of tagging the butterflies’ fragile wings and recruited thousands of volunteers over 20 years to help affix tiny labels that read “Send to Zoology University of Toronto Canada” onto each monarch.
The efforts paid off when Ken and Cathy Brugger called Urquhart to say they’d found millions of monarchs on the Neovolcanic Plateau outside Mexico City.
For the movie, the IMAX filmmakers tracked hunderds of millions of monarchs from Canada to their remote overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico in 2011 and 2012. The film allows you to see this amazing phenomen and catalogues the multigenerational journey of this beautiful species.