Some dolphins seem to have a shocking sixth sense.
German researchers have discovered that bottlenose dolphins can sense electric fields underwater. This could help them hunt down prey more efficiently deep in the ocean.
Dolly and Donna, bottlenose dolphins at Germany’s Nuremberg Zoo, can accurately detect electrical impulses in the water. According to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
This ability, known as electroreception, is commonly used by sharks and rays to detect weak electric fields from the bodies of their prey.
Researchers trained Dory and Donna to swim away from a small underwater device when they sensed a weak electric field.
If the dolphin did not feel anything, it was trained to stay in the same spot for 12 seconds.
If the dolphin answered correctly, it was given a treat such as fish or squid.
The researchers found that although dolphins are not as sensitive to electric fields as sharks, they can similarly use this technique to hunt prey, especially when hunting in murky seabeds.
The dolphins in the study were able to accurately detect electric fields 90 percent of the time when the field pulses were less than 125 microvolts per centimeter, but accuracy decreased as the field pulses slowed down.
Scientists say bottlenose dolphins showed similar detection thresholds as platypuses and Guiana dolphins.
Scientists who have observed dolphins say that while dolphins are less sensitive than sharks and rays, this skill “may make it easier to spot prey at short ranges or to target prey. I discovered that there is.
“Furthermore, dolphins’ ability to sense weak electric fields may allow them to perceive the Earth’s magnetic field through induction-based magnetic reception, which may allow for large-scale orientation.” write the researchers.