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Keywords:

  • sound;
  • minke whale;
  • Balaenoptera acutorostrata;
  • pulse train;
  • acoustic survey;
  • visual survey

Abstract

A nine-day acoustic and visual survey was conducted off the West Indies in March 1994 to study the pulse trains that were detected on SOSUS arrays throughout winter in deep water between the West Indies and Bermuda. During the survey, pulse train sounds were consistently recorded in an area 190–350 km northeast of Puerto Rico. Vocalizing animals were never visually observed, but visual sighting conditions were often poor and observation height was low. Pulse trains occurred in two basic forms. The “speed-up” pulse train was characterized by an accelerating series of pulses with energy in the 200–400 Hz band, with individual pulses lasting 40-60 msec. Speedup pulse trains started with average pulse rates of 1.5 pulses/sec, lasted 43.7 ± 6.0 sec, and ended with average pulse rates of 2.8 pulses/sec. The less common “slow-down” pulse train was characterized by a decelerating series of pulses with energy in the 250-350 Hz band. Slow-down pulse trains started at pulse rates averaging 4.5 pulses/sec, lasted 60.9 ± 5.8 sec, and ended with average pulse rates of 2.9 pulses/sec. We believe the recorded pulse trains are from minke whales based on careful reanalysis of, and comparison to, minke whale pulse-train sounds recorded in the Caribbean by Winn and Perkins (1976).