Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Singing humpback whales tracked on Northwest Atlantic feeding ground

Date:
April 29, 2013
Source:
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center
Summary:
Male humpback whales sing complex songs in tropical waters during the winter breeding season, but they also sing at higher latitudes at other times of the year. NOAA researchers have provided the first detailed description linking humpback whale movements to acoustic behavior on a feeding ground in the Northwest Atlantic.

Humpback whales in the Northwest Atlantic.
Credit: NEFSC/NOAA

Male humpback whales sing complex songs in tropical waters during the winter breeding season, but they also sing at higher latitudes at other times of the year. NOAA researchers have provided the first detailed description linking humpback whale movements to acoustic behavior on a feeding ground in the Northwest Atlantic.

Related Articles


Findings from the study, published April 10 in the journal PLOS ONE, demonstrate the potential applications of passive acoustic tracking and monitoring for marine mammal conservation and management.

Co-author Sofie Van Parijs, who heads the passive acoustics group at the Woods Hole Laboratory of NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), says this study is not so much about biology, but about acoustic methods.

"We have monitored and acoustically recorded whale sounds for years, and are now able to 'mine' these data using new computer software applications and methods, " said Van Parijs. "Passive acoustic tracking has enabled us to localize humpback whale song to study the movements of individual whales, and to relate the singing to specific behaviors. This has never before been accomplished for singing humpbacks on a northwest Atlantic feeding ground."

"Passive acoustic tracking of humpback whales and other cetacean species provides an opportunity to collect data on movement patterns that are difficult―or impossible―to obtain using other techniques," said lead author Joy Stanistreet, who worked with Van Parjis and co-author Denise Risch at the NEFSC's Woods Hole Laboratory at the time of the study. Stanistreet is currently a graduate student at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C.

Since 2007, NEFSC researchers have used year-round passive acoustic monitoring to study ocean noise in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, a feeding ground for humpback whales and other marine mammal species in the southern Gulf of Maine. Humpback whales typically frequent the sanctuary between April and December and feed on sand lance and other small schooling fish. Humpback whale singing in the sanctuary usually occurs from April through May, following the spring migration from southern waters, and from August to December before the return fall migration. During the summer, humpbacks remain in the sanctuary but generally do not sing while they feed.

The researchers used data from acoustic recordings collected from an array of 10 bottom-mounted marine autonomous recording units (MARUs). Continuous 24-hour recordings units were deployed in the sanctuary for four consecutive three-month periods during 2009. The MARUs were placed three to six miles apart, and the arrays shifted seasonally to areas within the sanctuary having high whale concentrations.

Humpback whale songs were recorded in distinct time periods during spring and fall. No songs were recorded during summer and winter, although humpback whales remained in the area. Songs were most common in the spring, and occurrences of singing increased significantly before and after migration periods.

Forty-three song sessions, each lasting from 30 minutes to eight hours, were used to track individual singing whales. Most of the singers were actively swimming; the patterns and rates of their movement ranged from slow meandering to a faster directional movement. In one case, two singers were tracked at the same time, suggesting a potential reaction by one singer to the presence of the other.

Marine mammal researchers could also use passive acoustic localization and tracking methods to better understand the geographic distribution, abundance, and densities of cetacean species, many of which are threatened by human activities. These applications may help inform and enhance marine mammal conservation and management efforts

The study was funded by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, a collaboration of federal agencies that provides leadership and coordination of national oceanographic research and education initiatives.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joy E. Stanistreet, Denise Risch, Sofie M. Van Parijs. Passive Acoustic Tracking of Singing Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) on a Northwest Atlantic Feeding Ground. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e61263 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061263

Cite This Page:

NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. "Singing humpback whales tracked on Northwest Atlantic feeding ground." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429133658.htm>.
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. (2013, April 29). Singing humpback whales tracked on Northwest Atlantic feeding ground. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429133658.htm
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Fisheries Science Center. "Singing humpback whales tracked on Northwest Atlantic feeding ground." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429133658.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins