[MARMAM] New publication: Fin whale song patterns in Hawaii

Regina Guazzo rguazzo at ucsd.edu
Thu Oct 29 11:03:07 PDT 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are doing well.  My co-authors and I are excited to announce the
following open-access publication:

Helble TA, Guazzo RA, Alongi GC, Martin CR, Martin SW and Henderson EE
(2020) Fin Whale Song Patterns Shift Over Time in the Central North
Pacific. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:587110. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.587110

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.587110

Male fin whales sing by producing 20 Hz pulses in regular patterns of
inter-note intervals. While singing, fin whales may also alternate the
frequency ranges of their notes. Different song patterns have been observed
in different regions of the world's oceans. New song patterns suddenly
emerging in an area have been hypothesized to either be indicators of new
groups of whales in the area or signs of cultural transmission between
groups. Since the status of fin whales around Hawaii is unknown and visual
surveys are expensive and difficult to conduct in offshore areas, passive
acoustic monitoring has been proposed as a way to monitor these whales. We
used passive acoustic recordings from an array of 14 hydrophones to analyze
the song patterns of 115 fin whale encounters made up of 50,034 unique
notes off Kauai, Hawaii from 2011 to 2017. Fin whale singing patterns were
more complicated than previously described. Fin whales off Hawaii sang in
five different patterns made of two 20 Hz note types and both singlet and
doublet inter-note interval patterns. The inter-note intervals present in
their songs were 28/33 s for the lower frequency doublet, 30 s for the
lower frequency singlet, 17/24 s for the higher frequency doublet, 17 s for
the higher frequency singlet, and 12/20 s for the doublet that alternated
between both note types. Some of these song patterns were unique to these
fin whales in Hawaiian waters, while others were similar to song patterns
recorded from fin whales off the U.S. west coast. Individual fin whales
often utilized several different song patterns which suggests that multiple
song patterns are not necessarily indicators of different individuals or
groups. The dominant song pattern also changed over these years. Cultural
transmission may have occurred between fin whales in Hawaiian waters and
off the U.S. west coast, which has resulted in similar songs being present
at both locations but on lagged timescales. Alternatively, groups occupying
the Hawaiian waters could shift over time resulting in different song
patterns becoming dominant. This work has implications for the population
structure and behavior of Hawaii fin whales.

Please email Tyler Helble (tyler at spawar.navy.mil) or me (
regina.guazzo at spawar.navy.mil) if you have any questions about this work.

All my best,


Regina A. Guazzo, PhD
Whale Acoustics Reconnaissance Program (WARP)
Environmental Readiness Branch
Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific
(c) 908.507.1421
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