Calling in the cold: pervasive acoustic presence of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Antarctic coastal waters


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Ilse.van.Opzeeland [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

Humpback whales migrate between relatively unproductive tropical or temperate breeding grounds and productive high latitude feeding areas. However, not all individuals of a population undertake the annual migration to the breeding grounds; instead some are thought to remain on the feeding grounds year-round, presumably to avoid the energetic demands of migration. In the Southern Hemisphere, ice and inclement weather conditions restrict investigations of humpback whale presence on feeding grounds as well as the extent of their southern range. Two years of near-continuous recordings from the PerenniAL Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean (PALAOA, Ekström Iceshelf, 70°31’S, 8°13’W) are used to explore the acoustic presence of humpback whales in an Antarctic coastal area. Humpback whale calls were present during nine and eleven months of 2008 and 2009, respectively. In 2008, calls were present in January through April, June through August, November and December, whereas in 2009, calls were present throughout the year, except in September. Calls occurred in un-patterned sequences, representing non-song sound production. Typically, calls occurred in bouts, ranging from 2 to 42 consecutive days with February, March and April having the highest daily occurrence of calls in 2008. In 2009, February, March, April and May had the highest daily occurrence of calls. Whales were estimated to be within a 100 km radius off PALAOA. Calls were also present during austral winter when ice cover within this radius was >90%. These results demonstrate that coastal areas near the Antarctic continent are likely of greater importance to humpback whales than previously assumed, presumably providing food resources year-round and open water in winter where animals can breathe.



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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Eprint ID
33891
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0073007

Cite as
van Opzeeland, I. , Van Parijs, S. , Kindermann, L. , Burkhardt, E. and Boebel, O. (2013): Calling in the cold: pervasive acoustic presence of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Antarctic coastal waters , PLoS ONE, 8 (9), pp. 1-7 . doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073007


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