Wildlife Wednesdays: Animal Behavior | weatherology°
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By: Meteorologist Megan Mulford
Updated: Feb 8th 2022

Wildlife Wednesdays: Animal Behavior

Did you know some animals can predict the weather?

Animals can be highly aware of changes in air pressure and water pressure. Any big changes in pressure can signal big changes in the weather, which triggers an animal's survival mechanism. Their first reaction is to seek shelter before potentially violent weather arises. 

For example, hurricanes cause quite a decrease in air pressure as well as water pressure. Animals that are exposed or accustomed to a certain type of weather can quickly sense these changes and they flee to safety, just like those animals that could sense a tsunami by shockwaves. Researchers observed this behavior with a group of sharks during Tropical Storm Gabrielle (2001) and Hurricane Charlie (2004). After the barometric pressure dropped just a few millibars (which also causes a similar change in water pressure), several sharks swam to deeper waters where there was more protection from the storm. 

Birds and bees also appear to be sensitive to the change in barometric pressure. As it drops, they will seek shelter in their nest and hives. Birds also use this ability to determine when it is safe to migrate. 

The sensitivity to weather fluctuations exists between species and between individuals of the same species. Some animals may be great weather predictors, while others within the same species might not be as sensitive.