[MARMAM] New paper: social responses of long-finned pilot whales to sonar, tagging and killer whale sounds

fvisser at kelpmarineresearch.com fvisser at kelpmarineresearch.com
Wed Jun 29 11:34:35 PDT 2016

Dear all,

We are pleased to announce that our paper: "Disturbance-specific social
responses in long-finned pilot whales, Globicephala melas" was published

The paper is open access in Scientific Reports, and available at:


Social interactions among animals can influence their response to
disturbance. We investigated responses of long-finned pilot whales to
killer whale sound playbacks and two anthropogenic sources of disturbance:
tagging effort and naval sonar exposure. The acoustic scene and diving
behaviour of tagged individuals were recorded along with the social
behaviour of their groups. All three disturbance types resulted in larger
group sizes, increasing social cohesion during disturbance. However, the
nature and magnitude of other responses differed between disturbance
types. Tagging effort resulted in a clear increase in synchrony and a
tendency to reduce surface logging and to become silent (21% of cases),
whereas pilot whales increased surface resting during sonar exposure.
Killer whale sounds elicited increased calling rates and the aggregation
of multiple groups, which approached the sound source together. This
behaviour appears to represent a mobbing response, a likely adaptive
social defence against predators or competitors. All observed
response-tactics would reduce risk of loss of group coordination,
suggesting that, in social pilot whales, this could drive behavioural
responses to disturbance. However, the behavioural means used to achieve
social coordination depends upon other considerations, which are

Best regards,

Fleur Visser

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