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Anguilla japonica is already magnetosensitive at the glass eel phase

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Magnetosensitivity of the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica at the glass eel phase (newly metamorphosed juveniles) was examined by conditioning and electrocardiography. The glass eels were conditioned to an imposed magnetic field of 192 473 nT parallel to the fish body placed along the earth's west‐east axis. After 10 to 40 conditioning runs, all the glass eels exhibited a significant conditioned response (i.e. slowing of the heart beat) to a 192 473 nT magnetic field and even to a 12 663 nT magnetic field that combined with the geomagnetic field (32 524 nT) at the laboratory and produced a resultant magnetic field of 21° easterly. These results indicate that glass eels have high magnetosensitivity and probably acquire geomagnetic information early in life. It is hypothesized that silver‐phase adult eels find their way back to the oceanic spawning ground by reversing the geomagnetic direction that had been detected and ‘memorized’ during the glass eel phase when migrating from the open ocean towards the continental shelf and coastal waters.

Keywords: Anguilla japonica; Japanese eel; conditioned response; glass eel migration; magnetosensitivity

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Faculty of Fisheries, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima 890-0056, Japan

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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