Bermuda Lobster Nature’s Top Navigator

December 28, 2011

The animal world has its share of celebrated navigators, from flocking geese to spawning salmon — but Bermuda’s spiny lobster may soon take its place as the very best of them.

Research suggests that Bermuda lobsters, despite their limited intelligence, may be the animal kingdom’s top navigators.

Their homing abilities are also providing scientists with new clues to the long-debated role of the earth’s magnetic fields in animal movements and migrations.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, reported in 2003 that spiny lobsters are able to determine their location on earth even when transported to an unfamiliar area. The clawless Bermuda lobsters are the first invertebrates to display this ability known as true navigation.

Animals capable of true navigation can determine their position without relying on recognisable surroundings, cues that originate from a destination, or information collected on the journey to a given location.

Only a few animals have been shown to possess true navigation — and all but the lobster are vertebrates. Birds such as the homing pigeon comprise most of the short list.

In earlier research, it had been found that spiny lobsters used an internal magnetic compass that enables them to determine the four cardinal directions: north, south, east, and west.

The spiny lobster is found in the western Atlantic in an area stretching from Bermuda to Brazil. Some populations are migratory, but most spend their daylight hours inside coral reef dens, emerging at night to forage before returning to their homes.

Writer Davide Castelvecchi discusses the Bermuda lobster and other animals with homing abilities in an article entitled “Magnetic Sense Shows Many Animals the Way to Go” in the January, 2012 edition of “Scientific American” magazine.

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Category: All, Environment

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  1. mixitup says:

    I agree! A Spiny Lobster navigated his way directly onto my plate last light…they ARE good.