[MARMAM] Recent paper on bowhead whale acoustics

Outi Tervo outiter at gmail.com
Sun Jan 6 15:42:40 PST 2013

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce the publication of the following paper in PLOS One:

Tervo OM, Christoffersen MF, Simon M, Miller LA, Jensen FH, Parks SE,
Madsen PT. (2012) High Source Levels and Small Active Space of
High-Pitched Song in Bowhead Whales (Balaena mysticetus). PLoS ONE
7(12): e52072. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052072



The low-frequency, powerful vocalizations of blue and fin whales may
potentially be detected by conspecifics across entire ocean basins. In
contrast, humpback and bowhead whales produce equally powerful, but
more complex broadband vocalizations composed of higher frequencies
that suffer from higher attenuation. Here we evaluate the active space
of high frequency song notes of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in
Western Greenland using measurements of song source levels and ambient
noise. Four independent, GPS-synchronized hydrophones were deployed
through holes in the ice to localize vocalizing bowhead whales,
estimate source levels and measure ambient noise. The song had a mean
apparent source level of 185±2 dB rms re 1 µPa @ 1 m and a high mean
centroid frequency of 444±48 Hz. Using measured ambient noise levels
in the area and Arctic sound spreading models, the estimated active
space of these song notes is between 40 and 130 km, an order of
magnitude smaller than the estimated active space of low frequency
blue and fin whale songs produced at similar source levels and for
similar noise conditions. We propose that bowhead whales spatially
compensate for their smaller communication range through mating
aggregations that co-evolved with broadband song to form a complex and
dynamic acoustically mediated sexual display.

Best regards,
Outi Tervo

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