whale migration

From: Howard Garrett (howard@orcanetwork.org)
Date: Thu Nov 18 2004 - 12:22:01 EST

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    >I'm doing a school project on the Northwest Atlantic Marine ecozone
    >and I have a few un-answered questions about whale migration. I looked
    >through some of the already answered questions but something is just
    >nagging at my mind.
    >Waters freeze over in the Northwest Atlantic Marine so, do the whales
    >migrate north on the earth's magnetic field where there is open water?
    >How do they get their air if there's ice on top?
    >Thanks for your time!
    >Grade 9 Student, Ontario, Canada

    There have been theories that whales have magnetite receptors in their
    brains that are sensitive to the earth's magnetic field and help guide
    their migrations. I believe the evidence is weak that such is the case
    however. More likely to me is that the knowledge of where the ice is too
    thick to be safe is handed down over the generations. In other words, the
    migratory whales travel to places that are traditional feeding, calving and
    traveling routes for their communities. In some cases they still may have
    to break through a few inches of ice to breathe now and then.

    Howard Garrett
    Orca Network
    Greenbank WA
    (360) 678-3451

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