I am increasingly jealous of their ability to travel into the world using other creatures and magnetic fields that inhabit the earth.
Birds use it. Bees, whales and turtles are sensitive to this. Probably the best utility case dogs,. Genius.
Now scientists have added another species to the list. Congratulations to the sharks that have officially proven that they can use magnetic fields to travel around the world.
Sharks have long been suspected of being part of the magnetic field club, but until now their membership has been difficult to prove. The reason? Sharks are a difficult species to read in general. For example, it is known that sharks travel great distances each year to return to very specific places. Sharks were also known to be sensitive to magnetic fields, but so far, there is no conclusive evidence to link the two.
Enter the Save Ever Seas Foundation and Florida State University Coast and Marine Laboratory.
In Current Biological Journal, Researchers from both groups reported the first conclusive evidence that sharks use magnetic fields to navigate incredibly long journeys across oceans. The challenge is to find the best way to prove it.
“How the sharks were able to successfully navigate to their destination remains unresolved,” said project leader Brian Keller.
Step one: Study the little sharks. The team focused its studies on bonnethead sharks, active tropical sharks, which weigh relatively little 5.9 kilograms (13 pounds) and travel in small groups of five to 15.
Step two: Confusion with the magnetic fields of those sharks. Researchers have uncovered 20 bonnet heads that were previously captured by magnetic conditions that marked hundreds of kilometers away from where the sharks were. They predicted how that expression would change the orientation of the shark, and they sought to reconsider and compensate for the cause of the displacement through that expression.
Results? The sharks behaved exactly as predicted, proving that they use magnetic fields to navigate.
These findings, the researchers believe, partly explain some of the incredible successes pulled by other sharks. Worse, a large white shark was shown migrating between South Africa and Australia, returning to the same place the following year.
“How wonderful is it for a shark to swim 20,000 kilometers in a three-dimensional sea and return to the same site?” Keller said. “It’s really captivating. In a world where people use GPS to go anywhere in the world, this capability is really remarkable.”
Considering how often my Google Maps catches up with me, that shark has GPS.