“It took human navigators centuries to figure out how to determine longitude on their long-distance voyages”.
Loggerhead hatchlings, however, are able to mange this feat as soon as they reach the sea from their nests.
On reaching the sea, the hatchlings are able to establish the correct course to the open ocean.
The young loggerheads then spend several years successfully navigating complex migratory routes over thousands of miles of ocean.
To carry out the research loggerhead hatchlings from Florida were placed in circular water containers and tethered to electronic tracking systems to monitor their swimming direction.
The hatchlings were then exposed to magnetic fields which replicated the fields they would come across in two locations on the same latitude but different longitude along their migratory route.
The turtles reacted to each magnetic field by swimming in the directions that would, in the real location, take them along their circular migratory route.
The researchers say this shows that the hatchlings are able to determine longitude using information from the magnetic field.