Tiger Sharks Shown to Have Incredible Mental Capabilities
Mar 14, 2011, 10:15
Tiger sharks seem capable of forming "mental maps" of their home ranges, allowing them to navigate from locations many miles away, U.S. researchers say.
Researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History analyzed data from tiger sharks tagged with transmitters, and found that they took "directed" paths from place to place, whereas other shark species did not exhibit the behavior, the BBC reported Wednesday.
Researchers suggest tiger sharks are able to store and recall maps of key sites and navigate between them, possible utilizing Earth's magnetic field.
Previous research in Hawaii had shown sharks of the same species swimming across deep channels and finding shallow banks rich in food 30 miles away.
In that study, scientists used statistical techniques to show the journeys were not made by accident but the sharks were following some kind of path.
"Our research shows that, at times, tiger sharks and thresher sharks don't swim randomly but swim to specific locations," said research leader Yannis Papastamatiou from the Florida Museum of Natural History.
"Simply put, they know where they are going," he said. "They have to have a pretty good navigation system because the distances are great."
Tiger sharks can cover huge distances, researchers say, and tags have been recovered from individual sharks more than 1,800 miles away from where they were attached.
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