How to navigate using Animals

Latest News: My new book, How to Read Water, is out soon! It contains many references to the way animals have helped navigators to find their way and understand where they are, including new research.

Nobody yet knows for certain how humans found their way to every part of the Earth's surface, but there are some interesting clues in the Pacific. Genetic and anthropological evidence now strongly suggests that the paths that humans followed is spookily similar to the migratory paths of the birds.

We can navigate with help from the animals without travelling to the other side of the world though.

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Spider's webs will be found in the lee of trees, fences and buildings, sheltered from the wind. If we know that our wind blows most commonly from the southwest, these webs become basic compasses.

The next time you walk past a gorse bush in an area with sheep, have a look at all sides of the bush. If you are in an exposed area (quite likely if there are gorse and sheep), you may spot that one side of the bush is less healthy than the other. The sheep like to shelter behind gorse when a storm blows through and these come from the southwest more often than any other direction. The giveaway is a hollow, or at least an area with dead branches and few flowers and tiny strands of wool hanging down from the branches.

Over the years I have had help from dogs, goats, horses, whales, dolphins, jellyfish and birds to name a few. Have a browse of some of the posts below, read my books or come on a course to discover which animals may help you find your way.

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For a complete guide to Natural Navigation read Tristan’s books.

More on how to navigate using Animals:

Mysterious Silver-Grey Splotches on Water

If you spot strange silver-grey patches on the surface of shallow fresh water, it is a sign that a pigeon has been enjoying a bath. The effect is caused mainly by a white powder, the dust from a pigeon's down feathers. A little wax and oils from the feathers also…

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The Direction Ducks Land

My thanks to my fellow Fellows at the Royal Institute of Navigation for drawing my attention to some research that slipped past me a few years ago. Hynek Burda, of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, led a team of 11 zoologists in a study of the way…

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Back from Crete

Just back from a natural navigation expedition in Crete. In summary: a sweaty success. More to follow in email newsletter etc.

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