Research on bonnethead sharks recently published in the journal Current Biology has shown that they use the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate on a long journey.
The sharks return year after year to where they hatched, crossing vast expanses of ocean.
Researchers used magnetic displacement on 20 wild-caught bonnethead sharks to simulate the effects of a different location on the earth’s surface. The sharks duly behaved as if they were hundreds of miles from their current location.
According to Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory and Save Our Seas Foundation project leader Bryan Keller:
“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.”
He later added:
“How cool is it that a shark can swim 20,000 kilometers round trip in a three-dimensional ocean and get back to the same site? It really is mind blowing. In a world where people use GPS to navigate almost everywhere, this ability is truly remarkable.”
You can check out some footage of the experiment below.