Going by smell

Published: Monday 31 July 2000

It is now well-known that albatrosses use smell to find food and navigate the oceans. Now a new study has found that they are sensitive to odours in the air released by krill and phytoplankton living beneath the wavers. Gabrielle Nevitt of the University of California studied the behaviour of foraging albatrosses and petrels around South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic. The study concludes that patches of plankton are often associated with undersea features and these provide olfactory 'landmarks' that the birds may use to find their way around ( The Biological Bulletin , Vol 198, p245).

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