Fish use their senses to swim home
Fast ocean currents carry most baby fish , called larvae , away from a reef right after birth . Some are happy to live wherever the currents take them , but others choose to return to the reef where they were born . Scientists from the Marine Biological Laboratory at woods hole , Massachusetts , have just discovered that baby fish only a few millimeters long can find their way home.
The scientists wondered if the fish might be using smell to find their way back. To test their theory, they collected water samples from different parts of the great barrier reef in Australia . Then they placed fish near the samples to see if they preferred one. The cardinalfish was especially picky about which water it chose .It swam to the water from its home reef most of the time .”It seems these fish use their noses to get around the reef, find a place to live,and even smell their way back to the site where they were born», says Gabriele Gerlach, one of the scientists, “ we are still trying to find the special smell that reminds each baby fish of its home.
”It may be the odor from its own species or a mixture of smells that is unique to each reef –the way people’s homes have typical odors,” says Jelle Atema , a marine biologist taking part in the study.