Scientists discovered the incredible navigation system that eels use to swim from their birthplace to the Sargasso Sea. They use magnetic fields to find their way on their journey of 5,000 kilometers in the Atlantic Ocean.
They have some sort of a sixth sense which identifies the changes which occur in Earth’s magnetic field. Thus, they are able to find the Gulf Stream and swim in warm water. The Gulf Stream is responsible with circulating water from the Caribbean to warm the Western European shores. Also, such a shortcut can reduce the journey of the eels.
Magnetic fields influence the routes of the eels
For the research, scientists simulated the journey of the eels and used magnets to influence certain conditions taking place during the process. Then, they looked at how these magnets determined the route the eels chose. Lewis Naisbett-Jones, professor at North Carolina University, explained their discovery.
The fact that the eels used a magnetic map to navigate did not surprise the researchers. What they found baffling was the fact that the animals were able to spot even the subtlest differences in a magnetic field. Moreover, they do not use this magnetic sixth sense to discover the position of Europe. Its purpose is to find the Gulf Stream and thus obtain a journey to Europe in warm water.
Unfortunately, eel populations have started dwindling. Climate change, pollution, and overfishing have all contributed to the threat towards this species. Thus, their numbers have decreased by 95 percent since 1980, and they are now on the endangered species list. Researchers also hope that their study will help raise awareness and support conservation efforts.
After 15 years, they start their final journey
This journey is undertaken by young eels which will spend the next 15 years maturing in the waters of Southern Europe and Northern Africa. After this process is completed, they are ready to perform the returning journey against the current. On their way back, they regain their youthful silver color, their fins grow, and their bones and digestive system get torn apart.
Their final destination is the Sargasso Sea. They come here to mate, spawn, and die. This spawning place has been unknown to people for centuries, who regarded the eels as a mystery. In 1922, humans found this place for the first time. It took them more than 80 years to map their routes into adulthood and disclose their mystery.
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