BLUE WHALE, BALAENOPTERA MUSCULUS, VOCALIZATIONS FROM THE WATERS OFF CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

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ABSTRACT

Low-frequency calls produced by blue whales, Balaenoptera musculus, were recorded in the northeastern Pacific Ocean off central California. Two blue whales were sighted during a vessel-based marine mammal survey, and when sonobuoys were subsequently deployed, blue whale calls were recorded. A third recording was obtained during the survey from a blue whale that was not seen. Recordings with 15, 25, and 55 min of calls were obtained from these individuals. The three recordings all contain two-part, low-frequency calls with slight interindividual variation. The calls consist of an amplitude modulated (AM) signal with a mean center frequency of 16.5 Hz, followed by a downsweep whose mean center frequency sweeps from 18.2 Hz to 16.6 Hz. The recordings are compared with blue whale recordings from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The geographic variability suggests that blue whale calls may be used as an acoustic indicator of stock identity.

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