Experimental evidence for geomagnetic orientation in juvenile salmon, Oncorhynchus tschawytscha Walbaum



Juvenile chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tschawytscha, kept under artificial light in a rectangular holding tank aligned east/west for 18 months, showed a preferred temporal and directional orientation of 270° with respect to water flow and the source of food.

Individual fish transferred from the holding/training tank to an unfamiliar circular test arena in another room devoid of local directional cues showed a mean of means preferred unimodal orientation of 264°.

Controlled re-introduction of individual stimuli revealed a hierarchy of orientation cues; one of these was a response to magnetism. A 90° clockwise shift in the horizontal component of the earth's magnetic field was followed by a significant change in the mean of means axial orientation, for the fish under test, from 258°/78° to 354°/174°. After restoration of the normal magnetic field the mean of means axial orientation reverted to 274°/94°.