A new study shows that salmon use magnetic fields to navigate their way across thousands of miles of ocean and rivers to specific breeding locations.
The journal Current Biology published the study earlier this month by scientists at Oregon State University. The study suggests that Chinook salmon have an inherent GPS-like ability that uses the Earth’s magnetism to guide them to specific breeding locations. It’s a fascinating discovery that sheds light on how young salmon can find places they’ve never been.
Here’s an excerpt from the study that explains how scientists studied how salmon use magnetic fields.
RELATED: California Salmon At Risk Of ExtinctionThe historic drought in California has left thousands of Coho salmon trapped in the Pacific Ocean. The salmon are now at risk of extinction if they cannot migrate to their breeding grounds to spawn the next generation of their species.
“Researchers exposed hundreds of juvenile Chinook salmon to different magnetic fields that exist at the latitudinal extremes of their oceanic range. Fish responded to these ‘simulated magnetic displacements’ by swimming in the direction that would bring [them] toward the center of their marine feeding grounds.”
The salmon used in the study had never left their hatchery, which helped scientists prove that the fish use inherent trait.
Salmon aren’t the only ones that use the Earth’s magnetism to perform natural functions. Last month, scientists showed that dogs poop in accordance with the Earth’s magnetic poles. Birds are also believed to use magnetic fields to navigate during their aerial migrations.