There’s no scent like home

Published May 07, 2008

Damselfish and smell: Marine scientists working on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have uncovered evidence that baby damselfish, only a centimeter long, manage to find the way to their home coral reef across miles of open sea by using their sense of smell! In damsels and other fish, a pair of tiny nostril-like holes, called nares, open to a chamber lined with sensory pads. When water moves across these pads, chemical signals incite the fish to react. In baby damsels, the chemical makeup or “smell” of home (a rich mixture of the proteins and amino acids emitted by corals) encourages them to chose a current that leads to their original reef.
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