Sharks use the Earth’s magnetic

I’m becoming increasingly jealous of other Earth-dwelling creatures and their ability to navigate the globe using magnetic fields.

Birds use it. Bees, whales and turtles are sensitive to it. Perhaps the best use case is dogs, who might even sense the magnetic fields to figure out the best places to poop. Genius.

Now scientists have added another species to the list. Congratulations to sharks, who have officially been proven able to use magnetic fields to help them circumnavigate the globe.  

 

Sto diventando sempre più geloso delle altre creature che vivono sulla Terra e della loro capacità di navigare nel globo usando i campi magnetici.

Gli uccelli lo usano. Le api, le balene e le tartarughe ne sono sensibili. Forse il miglior caso d’uso sono i cani, che potrebbero persino percepire i campi magnetici per capire i posti migliori in cui fare la cacca. Genio.

Ora gli scienziati hanno aggiunto un’altra specie all’elenco. Congratulazioni agli squali, che hanno ufficialmente dimostrato di poter utilizzare i campi magnetici per aiutarli a circumnavigare il globo.

 

 

“It had been unresolved how sharks managed to successfully navigate during migration to targeted locations,” said project leader Bryan Keller. 

Step one: Studying smaller sharks. The team focused its studies on bonnethead sharks, active tropical sharks which weigh in at a comparatively small 5.9 kilograms (13 pounds) and travel in small groups of five to 15. 

Step two: mess with those sharks magnetic fields. Researchers exposed around 20 previously caught bonnetheads to magnetic conditions representing locations hundreds of kilometers away from where the sharks were. They then made predictions as to how that exposure might alter the shark’s orientation as they attempted to recalibrate and compensate for the displacement cause by that exposure. 

The results? The sharks behaved exactly as predicted, effectively proving they use magnetic fields to navigate.

These findings, the researchers believe, partially explain some of the incredible feats pulled off by other sharks. Notoriously, one great white shark was shown to migrate between South Africa and Australia, returning to the same exact location the following year.

 

Presented by Romano Pisciotti

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