Humpback whale-generated ambient noise levels provide insight into singers' spatial densities

TitleHumpback whale-generated ambient noise levels provide insight into singers' spatial densities
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsSeger K.D, Thode A.M, Urban J., Martinez-Loustalot P., Jimenez-Lopez M.E, Lopez-Arzate D.
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Date Published2016/09
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0001-4966
Accession NumberWOS:000386932500022
Keywordsdetections; hawaii; megaptera-novaeangliae; migration; ocean; pacific; passive acoustic sensors; songs; waters

Baleen whale vocal activity can be the dominant underwater ambient noise source for certain locations and seasons. Previous wind-driven ambient-noise formulations have been adjusted to model ambient noise levels generated by random distributions of singing humpback whales in ocean waveguides and have been combined to a single model. This theoretical model predicts that changes in ambient noise levels with respect to fractional changes in singer population (defined as the noise "sensitivity") are relatively unaffected by the source level distributions and song spectra of individual humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). However, the noise "sensitivity" does depend on frequency and on how the singers' spatial density changes with population size. The theoretical model was tested by comparing visual line transect surveys with bottom-mounted passive acoustic data collected during the 2013 and 2014 humpback whale breeding seasons off Los Cabos, Mexico. A generalized linear model (GLM) estimated the noise "sensitivity" across multiple frequency bands. Comparing the GLM estimates with the theoretical predictions suggests that humpback whales tend to maintain relatively constant spacing between one another while singing, but that individual singers either slightly increase their source levels or song duration, or cluster more tightly as the singing population increases. (C) 2016 Acoustical Society of America.

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