Inter-Research > MEPS > v607 > p251-268  
MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 607:251-268 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12784

Humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae alter calling behavior in response to natural sounds and vessel noise

Michelle E. H. Fournet1,2,*, Leanna P. Matthews3, Christine M. Gabriele4, Samara Haver1,2, David K. Mellinger2,5, Holger Klinck6

1Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, Oregon State University, Newport, OR 97365, USA
3Biology Department, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA
4Humpback Whale Monitoring Program, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Gustavus, AK 99826, USA
5NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Newport, OR 97365, USA
6Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Acoustically adept species in the marine environment have to contend with complex and highly variable soundscapes. In the ocean today, sounds from human sources contribute substantially to the underwater acoustic environment. We used a 4-element hydrophone array in Glacier Bay National Park to (1) identify primary drivers of ambient sound in this region, (2) investigate whether humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae exhibit a Lombard response in response to ambient noise, and (3) investigate whether humpback whales adjust their calling activity in response to naturally occurring and vessel-generated sounds. We found that cruise ships and tour boats, roaring harbor seals Phoca vitulina, and weather events were primary drivers of ambient sound levels, and that they varied both seasonally and diurnally. As ambient sound levels increased, humpback whales responded by increasing the source levels of their calls (non-song vocalizations) by 0.81 dB (95% CI = 0.79-0.90) for every 1 dB increase in ambient sound. There was no evidence that the magnitude of the observed response differed between natural and man-made sounds. We also found that the probability of a humpback whale calling in the survey area decreased by 9% for every 1 dB increase in ambient sound. Controlling for ambient sound levels, the probability of a humpback whale calling in the survey area was 31-45% lower when vessel noise contributed to the soundscape than when only natural sounds were present.


KEY WORDS: Humpback whale calls · Vessel noise · Anthropogenic noise · Soundscape


Full text in pdf format  
Cite this article as: Fournet MEH, Matthews LP, Gabriele CM, Haver S, Mellinger DK, Klinck H (2018) Humpback whales Megaptera novaeangliae alter calling behavior in response to natural sounds and vessel noise. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 607:251-268. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12784

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
Facebook - - linkedIn