TWO TYPES OF BLUE WHALE CALLS RECORDED IN THE GULF OF ALASKA

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Abstract

At one time blue whales were found throughout the Gulf of Alaska, however, none have been sighted there in post-whaling era surveys. To determine if blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) might now occur in the Gulf of Alaska, an array of hydrophones was deployed there in October 1999. Data were retrieved in May 2000 and in June 2001. Spectrograms from a random subsample comprising 15% of the ∼63,000 h of data were visually examined for blue whale calls. Call types attributed to both northeastern and northwestern Pacific blue whales were recorded. Both of these call types were recorded seasonally from the initial deployment date in October 1999 through the third week of December 1999 and then from July 2000 through mid-December 2000. Both call types were regularly recorded on the same hydrophone at the same time indicating clear temporal and spatial overlap of the animals producing these calls. Two blue whale call types were recorded in the Gulf of Alaska suggesting that perhaps two stocks use this area. The northeastern call type has now been documented from the equator up to at least 55°N in the eastern North Pacific.

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