Researchers from Curtin University’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST) have just published a new paper on pygmy blue whale vocalizations using data from the SouWEST project!
The paper described non-song vocalizations of migrating pygmy blue whales as they travelled through Geographe Bay. Using simultaneous land-based visual observations and underwater acoustic recordings collected by the SouWEST team, 27 groups of blue whales were detected over 2011 – 2012. From this, researchers described six different vocalizations, five of which had not been previously described for this population.
Lead author Angela Recalde-Salas, a PhD student at CMST, believes this is a positive step in blue whale conservation. “It is important to identify, describe and quantify the acoustical repertoire of a species in order to understand their acoustical behaviour and function” she says. “This is a base for other acoustical and ecological studies. With this it will be possible to assess the effects of underwater noise, and improve detection techniques for this species”.
The paper, which was published on 17 April 2014 in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA), has already been viewed online over 500 times. If other locations also have high levels of non-song vocalizations, the inclusion of these sounds in passive acoustic detection censuses will significantly increase counts. Furthermore, if social context for the different vocalizations is verified, an even more powerful tool for population studies will be available.