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1 December 2011, by Peter Hurrell.

At just a few centimetres long, hatchling loggerhead turtles may seem powerless to resist being swept around the Atlantic Ocean by powerful currents.

But researchers have shown that the tiny turtles can influence where they end up with just a few hours of paddling a day, using the Earth’s magnetic field to orient themselves.

By modelling the turtles’ behaviour in an ocean circulation model, the researchers found that as little as an hour of active swimming every day could nudge the hatchlings into warmer waters at lower latitudes. More time spent swimming had a greater effect, and after swimming for three hours a day some hatchlings were 520km further south.

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