[MARMAM] New publication: Annual Acoustic Presence of Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) Offshore Eastern Sicily, Central Mediterranean Sea.

Virginia Sciacca vsciacca at unime.it
Thu Nov 19 01:22:53 PST 2015

Dear colleagues,

on behalf of my coauthors, I am pleased to announce the publication of 
our article:

Sciacca V, Caruso F, Beranzoli L, Chierici F, De Domenico E, Embriaco D, 
Favali, P., Giovanetti, G., Larosa, G., Marinaro, G., Papale, E., Pavan, 
G., Pellegrino, C., Pulvirenti, S., Simeone, F., Viola, S., Riccobene, 
G. (2015) *Annual Acoustic Presence of Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) 
Offshore Eastern Sicily, Central Mediterranean Sea*. PLoS ONE 10(11): 
e0141838. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141838


In recent years, an increasing number of surveys have definitively 
confirmed the seasonal presence of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in 
highly productive regions of the Mediterranean Sea. Despite this, very 
little is yet known about the routes that the species seasonally follows 
within the Mediterranean basin and, particularly, in the Ionian area. 
The present study assesses for the first time fin whale acoustic 
presence offshore Eastern Sicily (Ionian Sea), throughout the processing 
of about 10 months of continuous acoustic monitoring. The recording of 
fin whale vocalizations was made possible by the cabled deep-sea 
multidisciplinary observatory, “NEMO-SN1”, deployed 25 km off the 
Catania harbor at a depth of about 2,100 meters. NEMO-SN1 is an 
operational node of the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and 
water-column Observatory (EMSO) Research Infrastructure. The observatory 
was equipped with a low-frequency hydrophone (bandwidth: 0.05 Hz–1 kHz, 
sampling rate: 2 kHz) which continuously acquired data from July 2012 to 
May 2013. About 7,200 hours of acoustic data were analyzed by means of 
spectrogram display. Calls with the typical structure and patterns 
associated to the Mediterranean fin whale population were identified and 
monitored in the area for the first time. Furthermore, a background 
noise analysis within the fin whale communication frequency band 
(17.9–22.5 Hz) was conducted to investigate possible detection-masking 
effects. The study confirms the hypothesis that fin whales are present 
in the Ionian Sea throughout all seasons, with peaks in call detection 
rate during spring and summer months. The analysis also demonstrates 
that calls were more frequently detected in low background noise 
conditions. Further analysis will be performed to understand whether 
observed levels of noise limit the acoustic detection of the fin whales 
vocalizations, or whether the animals vocalize less in the presence of 
high background noise.

The article can be accessed here: 

Kind Regards,

Virginia Sciacca

PhD student, Environmental Sciences: marine environment and resources
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Messina
Viale Ferdinando Stagno d' Alcontres,31,98166 Messina, ITALY.

Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics – Southern National Laboratories
INFN – LNS. Via Santa Sofia 62, 95125 Catania, ITALY.

email. vsciacca at unime.it <mailto:vsciacca at unime.it>

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