St. Lawrence blue whale vocalizations revisited: Characterization of calls detected from 1998 to 2001

Catherine L. Berchok, David L. Bradley, Thomas B. Gabrielson

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From 1998 to 2001, 115 h of acoustic recordings were made in the presence of the well-studied St. Lawrence population of blue whales, using a calibrated omnidirectional hydrophone [flat (±3 dB) response from 5 to 800 Hz] suspended at 50 m depth from a surface isolation buoy. The primary field site for this study was the estuary region of the St. Lawrence River (Qúbec, Canada), with most recordings made between mid-August and late October. During the recordings, detailed field notes were taken on all cetaceans within sight. Characterization of the more than 1000 blue whale calls detected during this study revealed that the St. Lawrence repertoire is much more extensive than previously reported. Three infrasonic (<20 Hz) and three audible range (30-200 Hz) call types were detected, with much time/frequency variation seen within each type. Further variation is seen in the form of call segmentation, which appears (through examination of Lloyd's Mirror interference effects) to be controlled at least partially by the whales. Although St. Lawrence blue whale call characteristics are similar to those of the North Atlantic, comparisons of phrase composition and spacing among studies suggest the possibility of population dialects within the North Atlantic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2340-2354
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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