Dolphins, one of the friendliest and most lovable animals, have been shown to perceive magnetic fields. The researchers behind the study suggested that these marine mammals might be using magnetoreception (or magnetoception) as an aid to help them locate migration routes. Dolphins just got cooler!
What is magnetoreception?
A new study has shown that dolphins might be a magnetosensitive species – dolphins might be endowed with the capability of sensing magnetic fields. The marine animals have been found to behave differently when in the presence of magnetised objects.
Magnetoreception allows for certain animal species to detect magnetic fields which steer them towards particular directions, or allowing them to perceive altitude or location. Some marine species use this special sense to navigate their way for migration purposes, while some insects have also been observed to react to magnetic fields. Now, dolphins might be added to the list.
The experiment: dolphins & magnetised blocks
The scientists exposed 6 dolphins to a strongly magnetised block and another demagnetised one. Both blocks were otherwise identical in appearance, and could not even be differentiated with echolocation. As the 6 dolphins were allowed to swim freely about the 2 blocks, their behaviours were recorded. It was found that they would approach the magnetised block faster. But, other than this, they did not give different reactions as to the 2 blocks.
Conclusion: Dolphins sensing magnetic properties
The researchers suggested that they were most probably not physically attracted to the magnetised block, but might have been more intrigued by it, them being able to ‘sense’ it because of its magnetic properties.
It was then concluded that dolphins, and probably other cetaceans, have this special additional sense.
Valuable information for the protection of dolphins
This information could help conservationists as they might now be better equipped to understand migration routes taken by dolphins.