Dolphins, the animals that are man’s best friend and possess a number of qualities, has added one more feather in its cap as a study has shown that they can sense magnets.
According to the researchers, when they presented the dolphins with magnetized or unmagnetized objects, these brainy cetaceans swam more quickly towards the magnets compared to the unmagnetized one.
Based on the magnetic field of the Earth, the dolphins may use their skills of magnetic sensing for the navigation purposes.
The study to provide the behavioural evidence that these marine animals are magnetoreceptive was conducted by the researchers at the Ethos unit of the Universite de Rennes in France under the leadership of Dorothee Kremers.
For the study, the researchers involved six bottlenose dolphins in the delphinarium of Planete Sauvage in Port-Saint-Pere in France. During the experiment, the researchers kept a close watch at the animals so as to record their spontaneous reaction to a barrel that contained a strongly magnetised or a demagnetised block. Except for their magnetic behavior, the blocks were completely identical in their structure and density.
Throughout the experimental session, the brainy cetaceans were allowed to swim freely in and out of the pool where the barrel was placed. This allowed all the group members to freely interact to each other as well as with the barrel during the stipulated time.
Following a close analysis of all the six dolphins, the researchers found that they approached the barrel at a much faster pace when it contained a strongly magnetised block in comparison to the demagnetised one.
“Dolphins are able to discriminate between objects based on their magnetic properties. This behavior is a prerequisite for magnetoreception-based navigation,” said Kremers while adding, “Our results provide scientifically obtained evidence that cetaceans have a magnetic sense and should therefore be added to the list of magnetosensitive species.”
The research was published in the journal Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature.