How Fish Navigate

How Fish Navigate

A question that has bothered researchers for many years is how fish navigate. Fish move from one place to another, swimming around obstacles or locating food sources with no obvious way to know how to get to their objective. For example, we live on the edge of a river and have watched fish find their way around brush piles, even when the brush is moved by flooding.

Biologist Shachar Givon of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel conducted an ingenious experiment to learn how fish navigate. She constructed a fish-operated vehicle for a goldfish to drive. The vehicle consisted of a square fish tank fastened to a chassis with four multidirectional wheels. A downward-facing camera was connected to a computer algorithm which prompted the wheels to move the vehicle in the direction the fish was swimming. The six goldfish in the experiment navigated around obstacles and avoided dead ends. After one or two runs, they became proficient in reaching their goals. The researchers suggest understanding how fish navigate in unfamiliar territory, such as the terrestrial world, may help humans navigate in unfamiliar environments such as the zero gravity of space.

We can learn from the way God has designed survival methods in the natural world. In this case, we learn from an animal as primitive as a goldfish. The natural world is filled with examples of God’s design, and how fish navigate is just one of many systems we are just beginning to understand and may use as models to shape the future.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: American Scientist magazine, March/April 2022, page 77