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There and back! A super-fast review of the science of animal navigation

Thursday 20 April 2023 (1pm BST), online via ZoomComposite image showing front cover of David Barrie's book 'Incredible Journeys' juxtaposed with a map showing the migration routes of Arctic Terns

About the event

Over the last two hundred years, we’ve learned an enormous amount about how our fellow creatures – large and small – travel the world.  We now know a great deal about how different animals tackle the challenges of finding their way around, though many mysteries still remain. In his online (via Zoom) talk, David Barrie describes some of the key navigational mechanisms animals use, including path integration, the use of the sun, moon and stars, the sense of smell, as well as the earth’s magnetic field. He also touches on the work of the neuroscientists who are exploring the complex brain circuitry that underlies these remarkable processes. Researching his award-winning book, Incredible Journeys, David was astonished to discover the diverse array of navigational tools that animals employ, and realised that we humans have now largely turned our backs on the skills that our ancestors once employed to navigate the world.  Our ever-increasing reliance on electronic navigational aids marks a radical shift in our relationship with the natural world. Does that matter, and if so, why?

About our speaker

David Barrie is a former diplomat, arts administrator and campaigner. David has a degree in experimental psychology and philosophy, loves insects (especially moths), and is an expert small boat sailor. As Director of the Art Fund, he led the successful campaign to restore free admission to the UK’s national museums and galleries. His first book, Sextant, celebrated the role of celestial navigation in the exploration and mapping of the world’s oceans. His latest, Incredible Journeys – Exploring the Wonders of Animal Navigation, was published in 2019. It was chosen as The Sunday Times Nature Book of the Year and won a number of other awards.

Register for the event

This talk is free for SDS members. For non-members, the ticket cost is £10 per person (available to purchase via PayPal or by invoice / bank transfer. Unfortunately we are unable to process credit card transactions). To book your place, please get in touch with our administrator Kate at for the event details (and Zoom link, ID and password).

Not a member, unable to join us for the live-streamed event but would like to watch it at a time convenient to you? We offer the option to watch the event recording on a time-limited basis for the cost of a £10 ticket. Please email Kate for more information.



14 Jul 2024

Price : £

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