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UArizona alumni aids in the discovery of shark navigation

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TUCSON (KVOA) - A team of researchers discovered that sharks use the Earth's magnetic field to help them navigate through the ocean.

Shark Biologist Dr. Bryan Keller, University of Arizona alumni, said sharks have a series of pores on their snout that allows them to detect electric impulses.

In an experiment, researchers placed young sharks in a tank with copper wire a foot away from where they were swimming. They discovered that the sharks used the magnetic field to navigate.

Thus, presenting the notion that sharks move in various directions depending on where they were exposed to a magnetic field. For instance, when they were exposed to a southern magnetic field, they moved north to get their target.

"This is really exciting research, you know," Keller said. "And it's cool because it helps provide support for a theory that's been out there for 50 years, but our work is based off of five decades of work that we wouldn't have been able to do if it wasn't for that research. So, you know in science everything is collaborative and it's like a growing body of work, and we're standing on the shoulders of everyone who came before us."

Keller said his team of researchers is now working to get more funding to find out if sharks use the magnetic field for their daily movements and even helping them get food.

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Denelle Confair

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