"The Sockeye’s Secret Compass"

"Every summer, millions of sockeye salmon flood into the Fraser River in British Columbia, clogging its shivering waters with their brilliant blushing bodies."

"Scientists and spectators alike have long been awed by the sockeye’s audacious struggle to swim upstream to spawn. And while it has been known for years that a salmon can smell its way up the river to find its natal stream, no one has been able to explain just how these beautiful and economically vital fish find their way back from the open ocean, 4,000 or 5,000 miles away, to the right river mouth.

Now, research from Oregon State University provides the first evidence that sockeye are guided home after two years at sea by a memory of the magnetic landscape of the river. The results of the study appear in the latest issue of Current Biology."

Joanna M. Foster reports for the New York Times' Green blog February 7, 2013.

Source: Green/NYT, 02/08/2013