[MARMAM] new pub - humpback song particle motion

Aran Mooney amooney at whoi.edu
Wed Nov 2 12:17:15 PDT 2016

We are pleased to announce a new publication which describes high levels 
of acoustic particle motion noted in humpback whale song. Below is the 
reference and abstract.

Singing whales generate high levels of particle motion: implications for 
acoustic communication and hearing?
T. Aran Mooney, Maxwell B. Kaplan, Marc O. Lammers
Biology Letters (2016) 12: 20160381; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0381

It can be accessed at: 

If you have trouble accessing it online, please contact Aran Mooney 
(amooney at whoi.edu)

Acoustic signals are fundamental to animal communication and cetaceans 
are often considered bioacoustic specialists. Nearly all studies of 
their acoustic communication focus on sound pressure measurements, 
overlooking the particle motion components of their communication 
signals. Here we characterize the levels of acoustic particle velocity 
(and pressure) of song produced by humpback whales. We demonstrate that 
whales generate acoustic fields that include significant particle 
velocity components that are detectable over relatively long distances 
sufficient to play a role in acoustic communication. We show that these 
signals attenuate predictably in a manner similar to pressure and that 
direct particle velocity measurements can provide bearings to singing 
whales. Whales could potentially use such information to determine the 
distance of signaling animals. Additionally, the vibratory nature of 
particle velocity may stimulate bone conduction, a hearing modality 
similar to other low-frequency specialized mammals, offering a 
parsimonious mechanism of acoustic energy transduction into the massive 
ossicles of whale ears. With substantial concerns regarding the effects 
of increasing anthropogenic ocean noise and major uncertainties 
surrounding mysticete hearing, these results highlight both an 
unexplored avenue that may be available for whale acoustic communication 
and the need to better understand the biological role of acoustic 
particle motion.


T. Aran Mooney
Sensory Ecology and Bioacoustics Lab
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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