Do sharks use magnetism to navigate the ocean?

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Aside from being terrifying, sharks are also mysterious – which arguably makes them more terrifying, one might say. Among the mysteries of sharks are their abilities to navigate, including the practice of some species to make annual trips to remote parts of the ocean. Since sharks don’t use GPS or smartphones to navigate their way there and back (at least not to our knowledge), this begs the question: how do they go about it?

New research indicates a geologically fascinating answer to this question. Specifically, sharks can sense the magnetic fields of the planet and navigate accordingly. That’s right, sharks don’t necessarily use GPS because they are GPS. Except in this case, imagine a GPS system that could eat you up.

Or maybe don’t imagine it, because it’s utterly terrifying.

TO Smithsonian magazine, Alex Fox has more details on the latest discoveries about sharks and their journeys. The article quotes a recent study published in Current biology, describing how scientists simulated magnetic fields in a controlled environment and were able to redirect a number of flathead sharks accordingly.

This doesn’t necessarily confirm that sharks have this ability, but it’s more evidence that strongly favors it. And it’s a fascinating addition to what humans know about sharks – as well as a reminder of all that remains a mystery about them.

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