Salmon use magnetic field to find their way home

02/14/2013 | National Geographic News

Adult salmon that return to the same stream to give birth where they spawned use the Earth's magnetic field as their compass, according to a study published in Current Biology. Scientists compared five decades of fishing data with maps of magnetic field paths and discovered that the salmon chose the route that most closely matched the magnetic signature of their native stream at the time they first left it for the ocean. "These results are consistent with the idea that juvenile salmon imprint on the magnetic signature of their home river, and then seek that same magnetic signature during their spawning migration," said lead researcher Nathan Putman of Oregon State University.

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