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A behavioral experiment showed that dolphins are also affected by magnetic fields

Dolphins are attracted to magnets: "Add dolphins to the list of animals sensitive to magnets", say French researchers. Dolphins are sensitive to magnetic effects, as they behave differently when they swim near magnetized objects.

A dolphin raises its head above the water. Photo: shutterstock
A dolphin raises its head above the water. Photo: shutterstock

Dolphins are attracted to magnets: "Add dolphins to the list of animals sensitive to magnets", say French researchers. Dolphins are sensitive to magnetic effects, as they behave differently when swimming near magnetized objects. This is what Dorothee Kremers and her colleagues from the University of Rennes (Université de Rennes) in France claim. Their study provided a behavioral experiment that proved this claim.

"Magnetoception" is the ability of animals to use a magnetic field, such as the Earth's magnetic field, in order to orientate in the environment and navigate. Previous studies have shown that this sense plays an important role in land animals for navigation. Observations have also shown that this sense also exists in marine mammals that use it for navigation during sea migration, such as species from the whale family and dolphins.

Since, beyond observations, there was a lack of behavioral evidence for this, Kramer and her colleague performed an experiment in which six bottlenose dolphins (Dolphin, the scientific name is Tursiops-A.B.H.) swam in four pools measuring approximately 2,000 square meters. Some of the sides of the pool were made of cylinders containing magnetic Neodymium blocks. These blocks created a magnetic field around them with a strength of 1.2 Tesla. In another part of the cylinders, they were not placed in blocks (control group) and therefore they did not emit magnetic fields. Apart from this characteristic, the rolls were completely similar in their composition, texture and every other characteristic related to their external shape. It is important to note that the person who placed the barrels did not know which ones had a magnetic field and neither did the person who watched the video tapes of the dolphins.

During the experiment, the six dolphins swam freely and their movement was monitored simultaneously.
The analysis of the results of the experiment showed that the dolphins approached the cylinders that emitted a magnetic field much faster than the cylinders that did not emit a magnetic field (the term in the original study is Latency, meaning reaction time and meaning that the reaction time of the dolphins was shorter when they swam in front of the magnetized cylinders - p. B. H.). Beyond that, there was no difference in their behavior towards the different rolls.

"Dolphins are able to understand between objects based on their magnetic properties, a necessary condition for navigation based on magnetic sense," claims Kramer. Our results provide new experimental evidence regarding the existence of a magnetic sense in marine mammals, so these should be added to the animal species that are sensitive to magnetic fields."

 

Link to research

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