Sockeye salmon 'sense magnetic field of home'

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The mating display colours of the sockeye salmon
(image by Science Photo Library)

Each year millions of fish make the journey home in one of the toughest migrations of the animal kingdom. The memory of the magnetic field where they first entered the sea helps them find their way back, say US scientists. The data, in Current Biology, provide the first direct evidence that salmon use geomagnetic cues in migration. Other marine animals, including turtles and seals, may also use the same homing mechanism, say researchers. 'It seems unlikely that salmon are the only ones who've come up with this really good idea for finding your way home - it likely evolved in multiple lineages.' Exactly how the fish 'imprint' the magnetic field near where they were born is unknown, but the scientists believe the change from fresh to saltwater triggers some kind of neurological process.

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