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Keywords:

  • acoustic behavior;
  • echolocation;
  • frequency spectra;
  • interclick interval;
  • northern bottlenose whale;
  • Hyperoodon ampullatus

Abstract

Sounds produced by northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) recorded in the Gully, a submarine canyon off Nova Scotia, consisted predominately of clicks. In 428 min of recordings no whistles were heard which could unequivocally be attributed to bottlenose whales. There were two major types of click series, initially distinguished by large differences in received amplitude. Loud clicks (produced by nearby whales socializing at the surface) were rapid, with short and variable interclick intervals (mean 0.07 sec; CV 71%). The frequency spectra of these were variable and often multimodal, with peak frequencies ranging between 2 and 22 kHz (mean 11 kHz, CV 59%). Clicks received at low amplitude (produced by distant whales, presumably foraging at depth) had more consistent interclick intervals (mean 0.40 sec, CV 12.5%), generally unimodal frequency spectra with a mean peak frequency of 24 kHz (CV 7%) and 3 dB bandwidth of 4 kHz. Echolocation interclick intervals may reflect the approximate search distance of an animal, in this case 300 m, comparable to that found for sperm whales. The relationship between click frequency and the size of object being investigated, suggests that 24 kHz would be optimal for an object of approximately 6 cm or more, consistent with the size range of their squid prey.