Sharks Use the Earth’s Magnetic Field Like a Compass

“It’s a really interesting and clear demonstration that sharks are using the Earth’s magnetic field as a kind of map,” says Kenneth Lohmann, a professor of biology at the University of North Carolina who was not involved in the study. Lohmann has documented similar abilities in salmon and in sea turtles. He says this study suggests that the ability to navigate using magnetic sensing may be widespread among marine animals that migrate seasonally.

“It’s kind of equivalent to a young child being made to learn their home address,” Lohmann says. When they’re small, the sharks learn the magnetic “address” of their native estuary or bay. That information helps them return later, even after traveling thousands of miles. (They…

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