Source levels of social sounds in migrating humpback whales (<i>Megaptera novaeangliae</i>)

TitleSource levels of social sounds in migrating humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsDunlop RA, Cato DH, Noad MJ, Stokes D.M
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Date Published2013/07
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0001-4966
Accession NumberWOS:000321908500086
KeywordsAlaska; behavior; communication; playback; songs; vocalizations; waters

The source level of an animal sound is important in communication, since it affects the distance over which the sound is audible. Several measurements of source levels of whale sounds have been reported, but the accuracy of many is limited because the distance to the source and the acoustic transmission loss were estimated rather than measured. This paper presents measurements of source levels of social sounds (surface-generated and vocal sounds) of humpback whales from a sample of 998 sounds recorded from 49 migrating humpback whale groups. Sources were localized using a wide baseline five hydrophone array and transmission loss was measured for the site. Social vocalization source levels were found to range from 123 to 183 dB re 1 mu Pa @ 1 m with a median of 158 dB re 1 mu Pa @ 1 m. Source levels of surface-generated social sounds ("breaches" and "slaps") were narrower in range (133 to 171 dB re 1 mu Pa @ 1 m) but slightly higher in level (median of 162 dB re 1 mu Pa @ 1 m) compared to vocalizations. The data suggest that group composition has an effect on group vocalization source levels in that singletons and mother-calf-singing escort groups tend to vocalize at higher levels compared to other group compositions. VC 2013 Acoustical Society of America.

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