Forget the phrase “blind as a bat.” New experiments suggest that members of one species of these furry flyers—Myotis myotis, the greater mouse-eared bat—can do something no other mammal is known to do: They detect and use polarized light to calibrate their long-distance navigation. Previous research hinted that these bats reset their magnetic compass each night based on cues visible at sunset, but the particular cue or cues hadn’t been identified. In the new study, researchers placed bats in boxes in which the polarization of light could be controlled and shifted. After letting the bats experience sundown at a site near their typical roost, the team waited until after midnight (when polarized light was no longer visible in the sky), transported the animals to two sites between 20 and 25 kilometers from the roost, strapped radio tracking devices to them, and then released them. In general, bats whose polarization wasn’t shifted took off for home in the proper direction. But those that had seen polarization shifted 90° at sunset headed off in directions that, on average, pointed 90° away from the true bearing of home, the researchers report online today in Nature Communications. It’s not clear how the bats discern the polarized light, but it may be related to the type or alignment of light-detecting pigments in their retinas, the team suggests. The bats may have evolved to reset their navigation system using polarized light because that cue persists long after sunset and is available even when skies are cloudy. Besides these bats (and it’s not known whether other species of bat can do this, too), researchers have found that certain insects, birds, reptiles, and amphibians can navigate using polarized light.
Ministers of Tourism and private sector leaders meeting at the 9th UNWTO & World Travel Market (WTM) Ministers’ Summit agreed that destination branding and the way tourism marketing organisations operate need to be adapted to the changes brought in by social media (London, United Kingdom, November 3, 2015).Over 60 tourism ministers and leaders from Facebook, Expedia, Melia Hotels, Eurostar and the World Travel and Tourism Council meeting in London discussed how market changes and consumer empowerment has fully shifted destination branding. Participants recalled that the current social media landscape requires destinations to invest further in understanding and engaging travellers in social media.The Summit, moderated by CNN International’s Richard Quest, addressed issues such the need for transparent, honest and swift action in social media in times of crises, how to generate engagement with travellers and transform them into destination ambassadors and how to maximise big data to develop targeted marketing.Opening the Summit, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, underscored that, “Today consumers have access to more information, more choices, and more opportunities to voice their opinions and can be the whistle-blowers for unethical practices or the biggest ambassadors for destinations and service providers. In this context, branding is an ever more complex challenge requiring destinations and companies to adjust their structures, their policies and their strategies.”Speaking at the Summit were Nikolina Angelkova, Minister of Tourism of Bulgaria; Li Shihong, Vice Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA); Mauricio Ventura Aragón, Minister of Tourism of Costa Rica; Darko Lorencin, Minister of Tourism of Croatia; Nayef H Al-Fayez, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan; Dato Sri Mohamed Nazri Bin Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture of Malaysia; Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister of Tourism of Malta; Derek Hanekon, Minister of Tourism of South Africa; Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand and Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe as well as Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive Officer of Eurostar International: Noah Tratt, Global Senior Vice President of Expedia, Inc.; Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel for Facebook; Anthony Cortizas, Vice President of Global Brand Strategy of Meliá Hotels International and David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).