Sharks and their ability to use the Earth's magnetic field to navigate... an NFS grant project for Rice University


A sequence for an immersive fulldome planetarium show about the Earth's electro-magnetic field required Home Run Pictures' animators to depict the science behind the ability of sharks to sense magnetic lines. Using this ability, sharks can follow their migration paths as if they had built in compasses.

The magnetic field lines surrounding our planet can be sensed by certain animals who pocess electroreceptors. In sharks, their Ampullae of Lorenzini sensing organs, a network of jelly-filled pores, respond to the Earth'smagnetic field. The receptors measure the difference between electrical voltage at the skin surface and the base of the receptor.

The network of pores is concentrated in the head and run along the length of the shark's body. Ocean currents induce electric fields in association with the Earth's magnetic field giving the shark clues to its direction and orientation and the shark's brain interprets these for guidence.

As part of a immersive fulldome show about the Earth's electromagetic field, the sequence addressed the ability of some animals to use magnetism as a guide to movement thru water or flight in the atmosphere for migration.

A short video of the finished sequences can be viewed by clicking here

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