What’s the News: One of the leading theories explaining why birds can travel thousands of miles each year without getting lost is that they are equipped with an internal compass on their beaks: iron crystals in cells there could be orienting to the Earth’s magnetic field, sending a message to their brains that helps them steer.
Shark seek: Tiger sharks and thresher sharks remember and zero in on specific places to hunt for food in an area that might be 30 miles across. That shows they might possess not only the ability to navigate by smell or by the Earth’s magnetic field, but also broader spatial memory for their home range.
We be jammin’: Satellite provider Thuraya Telecommunications and news channel Al Jazeera both report that sources in Libya are illegally trying to jam their signals, and traced the attempts to “a Libyan intelligence service facility south of Tripoli.”
In 1996, a loggerhead turtle called Adelita swam across 9,000 miles from Mexico to Japan, crossing the entire Pacific on her way. Wallace J. Nichols tracked this epic journey with a satellite tag. But Adelita herself had no such technology at her disposal. How did she steer a route across two oceans to find her destination?
Nathan Putman has the answer. By testing hatchling turtles in a special tank, he has found that they can use the Earth’s magnetic field as their own Global Positioning System (GPS). By sensing the field, they can work out both their latitude and longitude and head in the right direction.
By testing turtle hatchlings in a tank surrounded by magnets he could control, Putman showed turtles could sense it if he reversed the magnetic field around them and would begin heading in the opposite direction.