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First evidence of fish sensing geomagnetic fields from a Czech Christmas market

Date:
December 5, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Carp stored in large tubs at Czech Christmas markets align themselves in the north-south direction, suggesting they possess a previously unknown capacity to perceive geomagnetic fields, according to a new study.
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Arrows were drawn along the median axes of all the fish visible in the photograph (the arrow axial course was marked unambiguously by the long dorsal fin, its direction by the head position). (C, D) The underlying photograph was removed and replaced by a compass rosette divided radially into 36 ten-degree segments. (E) Each arrow was moved to the center of the rosette and its azimuthal direction was determined by the nearest 10° mark. (F) Mean unimodal, bimodal and quadrimodal vectors were calculated for the photograph.
Credit: Vlastimil Hart et al. Magnetic Alignment in Carps: Evidence from the Czech Christmas Fish Market. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51100 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051100

Carp stored in large tubs at Czech Christmas markets align themselves in the north-south direction, suggesting they possess a previously unknown capacity to perceive geomagnetic fields, according to a new study published December 5 in the open access journal PLOS ONE, led Hynek Burda from the University of Life Sciences (Prague), Czech Republic and colleagues from other institutions.

The authors photographed and analyzed the positions of fish in the traditional Czech Christmas market, where carp are stored live in large tubs prior to being sold for the holiday feast.

Their study included over 14,000 fish in 25 markets, and the majority of these fish were found to align themselves along the north-south axis. The fish were accustomed to human onlookers, and street lights and other potential disturbances seemed to have no effect on the orientation of the fish.

In the absence of other common stimuli for orientation like light, sound or the flow of water, the authors suggest that the fish most likely align themselves to geomagnetic cues.


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Journal Reference:

  1. Vlastimil Hart, Tomáš Kušta, Pavel Němec, Veronika Bláhová, Miloš Ježek, Petra Nováková, Sabine Begall, Jaroslav Červený, Vladimír Hanzal, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Kamil Štípek, Christiane Vole, Hynek Burda. Magnetic Alignment in Carps: Evidence from the Czech Christmas Fish Market. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51100 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051100

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Public Library of Science. "First evidence of fish sensing geomagnetic fields from a Czech Christmas market." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205200057.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, December 5). First evidence of fish sensing geomagnetic fields from a Czech Christmas market. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205200057.htm
Public Library of Science. "First evidence of fish sensing geomagnetic fields from a Czech Christmas market." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121205200057.htm (accessed May 23, 2015).

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