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- Using accelerometers to determine the calling behavior of tagged baleen whales
- Low-frequency acoustic signals generated by baleen whales can propgate over vast distances, making the assignment of calls to specific individuals problematic. Here, we report the novel use of acoustic recording tags equipped with high-resolution accelerometers to detect vibrations from the surface of two tagged fin whales that directly match the timing of recorded acoustic signals. A tag deployed on a buoy in the vicinity of calling fin whales and a recording from a tag that had just fallen off a whale were able to detect calls acoustically but did not record corresponding accelerometer signals that were measured on calling individuals. Across the hundreds of calls measured on two tagged fin whales, the accelerometers response was generally anisotropic across all three axes, appeared to depend on tag placement and increased with the level of received sound. These data demonstrate that high-sample rate accelerometry can provide important insights into the acoustic behavior of baleen whales that communicate at low frequencies. This method helps identify vocalizing whales, which in turn enables the quantification of call rates, a fundamental component of models used to estimate baleen whale abundance and distribution from passive acoustic monitoring.
- Goldbogen, Stimpert, DeRuiter, Calambokidis, Friedlaender, Schorr, Moretti, Tyack, Southall
- Sound production and associated behavior of tagged fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) in the Southern California Bight
- Background: For marine animals, acoustic communication is critical for many life functions, yet individual calling behavior is poorly understood for most large whale species. These topics are important for understanding whale social behavior and can also serve as a baseline for behavioral studies assessing whale response to disturbance. Using a new technique for identifying the calling individual, we measured body orientation, dive behavior, and surface social behavior in relation to call production for tagged fin whales in Southern California. Results: Behavioral metrics associated with elevated call rates included shallow maximum dive depths (10–15 m), little body movement, negative pitch in body orientation, and moderate body roll. Calling whales were also more likely to be traveling than milling, in groups rather than solitary, and without change in group size compared to non-calling whales. Conclusions: These are the first descriptions of body posture and depths at which fin whales are most likely to call, and some possible sound propagation and/or anatomical reasons for these results are considered. The call behavior characterizations presented here will help in predicting calling behavior from surface behavior, informing interpretation of passive acoustic data, and determining the effects of anthropogenic sound on whales in Southern California.
- Stimpert, DeRuiter, Falcone, Joseph, Douglas, Moretti, Friedlaender, Calambokidis, Gailey, Tyack, Goldbogen