Northeast Fisheries Science Center: Male humpback whales sing complex songs in tropical waters during the winter breeding season, but they also sing at higher latitudes at other times of the year. NOAA researchers have provided the first detailed description linking humpback whale movements to acoustic behavior on a feeding ground in the Northwest Atlantic.
Findings from the study, published April 10 in the journal PLOS ONE, demonstrate the potential applications of passive acoustic tracking and monitoring for marine mammal conservation and management.
Co-author Sofie Van Parijs, who heads the passive acoustics group at the Woods Hole Laboratory of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), says this study is not so much about biology, but about acoustic methods.
“We have monitored and acoustically recorded whale sounds for years, and are now able to ‘mine’ these data using new computer software applications and methods,” said Van Parijs. “Passive acoustic tracking has enabled us to localize humpback whale song to study the movements of individual whales, and to relate the singing to specific behaviors. This has never before been accomplished for singing humpbacks on a northwest Atlantic feeding ground.”
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