An article appeared in Volume 25, Issue 3 of Current Biology (pp 392–396, Feb 2015) describing the amazing feat that sea turtles accomplish in migrating across entire ocean basins before returning to nest in the same coastal area where they hatched. The article states, “How sea turtles accomplish natal homing has remained an enduring mystery of animal behaviour”.

The biologists analysed nesting sites over a 19 year period and discovered that nest sites of returning sea turtles  followed changing magnetic field lines. Science magazine gave a brief review of the findings: “Much like shifting sand, magnetic fields slide slightly over time, and their strength also increases as one moves away from the equator, akin to latitude. This property gives each stretch of coast a unique geographic marker, known as an isoline. The team found that in years when these magnetic isolines moved apart, the turtle nests spread out over a larger area – by one or two kilometres. Conversely, when isolines converged, the nests squeezed into a smaller patch of beach, suggesting the turtles follow shifting magnetic tracks to their favourite nests. The findings also argue that a magnetic address is imprinted on loggerhead turtles at birth to point the way home.”

Little is known about how turtles detect the geomagnetic field. Most likely, tiny magnetic particles in the turtles’ brains are apparently able to gather information not just on the inclination angle of the magnetic field, but on its intensity as well – but no one knows for sure.

Recently, too, distantly related animals like fish, “primitive jellyfish,” birds and mammals were discovered to have very advanced orientation abilities, most likely based on similar magnetic imprinting. So here we have a highly precise navigational ability, able to cue on very faint properties in the earth’s magnetic field and find home across thousands of miles. Furthermore, the baby turtles, with their tiny brains, must have the ability to memorise the natal signatures of odours and magnetic field properties at birth, then recall those memories years later as large adults.

Even if a Darwinian evolutionist could show a possible line of descent from fish to mammal, the abilities involved would have been lost and regained multiple times, because not all fish, birds, and mammals use magnetic navigation. Given the complexities of the sensory systems involved, if the origin of this capability in one type of animal is highly implausible by mutation and selection, how much more implausible for other non-related species?

In contrast, we see God as a wonderful Designer using the global effects of the earth’s magnetic field to guide all different types of creatures to their homes. As the psalmist so wonderfully puts it, “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16).