BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Latest research says that sharks use their sense of smell as a GPS. Scientists have concluded that sharks rely more on their nose, rather than their eyes.
In order to determine whether or not, sharks use their sense of smell as a GPS, a team of researchers has conducted an experiment using a sample of leopard sharks. The marine predators were taken from their usual habitats and moved at a distance between 6 and 10 miles.
In order to determine whether smell plays an important part in their movements, the researchers stuffed the noses of a certain number of sharks. After being set free, the predators that did not have their sense of smell altered turned immediately in the right direction and headed towards the place we might call their home.
The group that suffered the alterations was observed to have had problems in finding the right direction at first. It took some wandering for them to discover the right path that led towards the surroundings they were used to.
The team declared that no harm came to the sharks during the experiment, the marine predators in question being able to feed normally. The stuffed noses did not interfere with their usual routine more than the research findings show.
Researcher Andrew Nosal, a postdoctoral candidate at the Scripps Oceanography Institution and La Jolla Birch Aquarium in California, analyzed the findings and came to the conclusion that sharks use their sense of smell as a GPS.
The study was not well received by the entire marine researchers and scientist community. Some say that the stuffed noses affected the sense of orientation of the sharks because it was an inconvenient they did not encounter so far.
Others have objected, saying that they were probably just following the scent that was given off by the land.
This is the first study conducted to test the acuity of a shark’s sense of smell and the role it plays in its guidance.
The leopard shark, the species used by the researchers in this experiment, is known to travel in packs. This type of shark is small in comparison to its bigger slightly distant relatives. The leopard prefers shallow waters. It hunts with the tide, feeding on small fish and crustaceans.
Until now the marine scientific community thought that sharks guide themselves by interpreting the magnetic waves that the Earth emanates, or by the position in which the light falls.
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