Scientists have long been intrigued with the almost uncannily straight paths humpbacks follow while traveling their routes across the oceans. A team from the University of Canterbury and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in DC has now observed the huge mammals’ migration patterns, and believes: “They’re orienting with something outside of themselves, not something internal.“
After eight years of intensive field study, enviromental scientist Travis Horton of Canterbury, suspects that whales rely on the Earth’s magnetism, the sun’s position and the constellation of the moon and stars in order to stay on track.
Between 2003 and 2010, the scientists have mapped the cetaceans’ behavior by using satellites tags embedded in seven South Atlantic and nine South Pacific whales. They discovered that despite currents, storms and other distractions, the humpbacks never deviated more than approximately 5 degrees from their courses, and many deviated by only one degree or even less.
Whales are known to be highly sophisticated creatures, but the findings generated admiration even among the researchers. The results, recently published in Biology Letters, suggest an intrinsic correlation between the deep sea and the sky, and can be interpreted as more evidence for the holistic nature of our world.
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