Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) acoustic presence off Elephant Island (South Shetland Islands), Antarctica

Elke.Burkhardt [ at ]


Summertime visual observations suggest that the region around Elephant Island may serve as an important feeding area for fin whales. To explore its year-round relevance, passive acoustic recordings collected northwest of Elephant Island (61°0.88’S, 55°58.53’W) from January 2013 to February 2016 were analysed for seasonal and diel patterns of fin whale 20 Hz calls. Calls were detected year-round, although in some years calls were not present during all months. For all years, fin whale calls were consistently present from March to July for more than 90% of days per month. From August to January, percentage of days with calls varied between years, with presence exceeding 75% of days per month throughout 2014, whereas in 2015 calls were absent in October and November. In 2013, fin whale calling dropped in August and increased again towards October and November. Quantitative analyses of power spectral density for the 20-Hz and 89-Hz fin whale bands, showed that fin whale acoustic power in both frequency bands followed a Gaussian-like temporal pattern, increasing in late January, peaking during April-May and decreasing in late August for all years. A second shoulder peak in PSD seemed to occur during the second part of July showing strongest for the upper fin whale band, followed by a rapid decrease, after which SNR for both bands dropped to zero. Diel patterns in call activity were analysed for a 10-month subset of the data from 2013. Fluctuations in call rates did not follow a diel pattern nor correspond to local insolation. The observed peaks in fin whale call activity correspond to the periods during which fin whale super groups have been observed visually in this region. Our year-round acoustic analysis indicates that the Elephant Island region likely carries an important role for fin whales throughout the entire year.

Item Type
Conference (Poster)
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Research Networks
Publication Status
Event Details
World Marine Mammal Conference, 09 Dec 2019 - 12 Dec 2019, Barcelona, Spain.
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Burkhardt, E. , Boebel, O. , Cisewski, B. , Mattmueller, R. M. , Meister, M. , Schall, E. , Spiesecke, S. , Thomisch, K. , Zwicker, S. and Opzeeland, I. C. (2019): Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) acoustic presence off Elephant Island (South Shetland Islands), Antarctica , World Marine Mammal Conference, Barcelona, Spain, 9 December 2019 - 12 December 2019 .

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Geographical region

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ANT > XXIX > 2
ANT > XXXI > 2

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