Sea turtles have a reputation for depending on magnetic signals to find a way across hundreds or even thousands of miles to the specific beach they hatched on.
Researchers recently reported in the journal Current Biology that they found some concluding evidence that sharks also depend on magnetic fields for long-distance journeys across seas.
Bryan Keller, the leader of the Save Our Seas Foundation project and member of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, stated:
“It had been unresolved how sharks managed to successfully navigate during migration to targeted locations. This research supports the theory that they use the earth’s magnetic field to help them find their way; it’s nature’s GPS,” ScienceDaily reported.
Researchers were aware that some shark species could travel long distances to particular locations year after year.
They also found that sharks are susceptible to electromagnetic fields and changes in them, which is why scientists speculated that sharks use magnetic fields to navigate for a long time.
However, the true challenge came when they looked for a way to test the hypothesis in sharks.
Keller expressed his amazement with the success of the study.
“The reason this question has been withstanding for 50 years is because sharks are difficult to study,” he added.
He said that further studies would be easier to perform in smaller exemplars. Also, they are looking for a species particularly popular for returning to specific locations each year. The team chose bonnetheads (also known as Sphyrna tiburo).
The ability to return to the same spot each year means that the sharks know where their “home” is and how to find their way back to it from distances that are very far away.