An important new study revealed that loggerheads are able to find the beach where they were born using magnetic fields, with their own internal GPS that led them directly to their birthplace decades later.
Kenneth Lohmann, who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explained that these sea turtles also sometimes end up getting off a different beach, but only if the magnetic field is similar to the first one where they were born, like Futurity reports.
"Loggerhead turtles are fascinating creatures that begin their lives by migrating alone across the Atlantic Ocean and back, eventually re-nesting on the beach where they hatched, or otherwise, on a beach with a very similar magnetic field."
When it comes to the factor of genetic similarities between loggerhead turtles, magnetic fields are the main predictor of this similarity, despite the extreme distances or differences in the beaches where these turtles were born.
The new study is particularly useful in deciding the best possible conservation methods for these loggerhead turtles. For example, it has been discovered that large buildings that clutter beaches, retaining walls and even power lines can easily interfere with magnetic fields, which would create confusion for turtles.
This could lead them to swim to the wrong beach, although they would still find one that had a magnetic field similar to the one they had first hatched.
Loggerhead turtles probably "print" in the magnetic field of their nesting area at a very early age, or even before they hatch, according to scientists at UNC. https://t.co/V3BYkkEc2R
– NPR (@NPR) April 12, 2018
Sea turtles are adorned with a type of print that can occur immediately before they have hatched or directly later, but this particular footprint that acts as a GPS allows them to be born on a beach somewhere along the east coast, travel to places as far away as Africa, and still manage to emigrate to their country of return.
J. Roger Brothers, who led the recent study on loggerhead turtles, notes that other animals are also deeply attuned to the magnetic fields that help them return to their place of birth, according to NPR .
"Many different animals, including sea turtles, detect the Earth's magnetic field and then derive navigation information from it and use it to find their way or during long-distance migrations."
According to The News & Observer the new study could have a direct impact on our understanding of other animals that are also migratory, as Kenneth Lohmann explained.
"This is a new important vision on how sea turtles sail during their long distance migrations, it may have important applications for the conservation of sea turtles, as well as other migratory animals such as salmon, sharks and certain birds" .
Along with the loggerhead turtles, there are six other species of sea turtles, and six of them. seven of these are currently registered as an endangered species or one that is under serious threat.
The new study on the ability of loggerheads to find their way back to the beach from home using the earth's magnetic fields has been published in Biology .