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Sharks make use of Earth’s magnetic field to navigate, according to scientists

Scientists have discovered that sharks use the earth’s magnetic field as a natural GPS to navigate their travels, allowing them to cross the world’s oceans.

The researchers said their experiments with a small number of sharks in the marine laboratory confirmed the speculation that sharks use magnetic fields to aid navigation, and this behavior has also been observed in other marine animals, such as sea turtles.

One of the study’s authors, marine policy expert Bryan Keller (Bryan Keller) said their research, published in this month’s “Current Biology” magazine, also sheds light on why sharks can travel across the ocean and find food, reproduction, and reproduction. 

Keller said: “We knew that sharks can respond to magnetic fields. We did not know that they detected that it could be used as a navigational aid … a shark can travel 20,000 kilometers (12,427 miles) and eventually reach the same place.”

The problem of how sharks migrate long distances has plagued researchers for many years. Sharks travel in the open ocean, where they rarely encounter physical features like corals that can serve as landmarks.

To find the answer, scientists at Florida State University decided to study fish, a live fish that lives off the coast of the United States and returns to the same estuary every year.

Investigators exposed 20 hoods to magnetic conditions, simulating a location hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the state of Florida where they were arrested. Scientists have found that when magnetic signals make sharks think they are south of where they should be, the sharks start swimming north.

Robert Hueter, a scientist emeritus at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium who was not involved in the study, said the findings are compelling.

Hutte said more research is needed to find out how sharks use magnetic fields to determine their location, and whether larger, long-distance migratory sharks use similar systems to find their way out.

“The question has always been: even if sharks are sensitive to magnetic orientation, will they use this feeling to navigate the ocean and how to navigate? These authors have made some progress in solving this problem,” he said.

Keller said this research can help manage shark species management, and shark species are declining. A study this year found that between 1970 and 2018, the number of ocean sharks and rays declined by more than 70% globally.

The researchers say that the bonnethead’s dependence on the Earth’s magnetic field can be shared with other sharks (such as great white sharks) and they can travel across the oceans. Keller said that it is extremely unlikely to have a magnetic hood, while other sharks do not.

 

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