Volume 135, Issue 3, March 2014
Index of content:
- BIOACOUSTICS 
135(2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4863647View Description Hide Description
Previous underwater recordings made in New Zealand have identified a complex sequence of low frequency sounds that have been attributed to blue whales based on similarity to blue whale songs in other areas. Recordings of sounds with these characteristics were made opportunistically during the Southern Ocean Research Partnership's recent Antarctic Blue Whale Voyage. Detections of these sounds occurred all around the South Island of New Zealand during the voyage transits from Nelson, New Zealand to the Antarctic and return. By following acoustic bearings from directional sonobuoys, blue whales were visually detected and confirmed as the source of these sounds. These recordings, together with the historical recordings made northeast of New Zealand, indicate song types that persist over several decades and are indicative of the year-round presence of a population of blue whales that inhabits the waters around New Zealand. Measurements of the four-part vocalizations reveal that blue whale song in this region has changed slowly, but consistently over the past 50 years. The most intense units of these calls were detected as far south as 53°S, which represents a considerable range extension compared to the limited prior data on the spatial distribution of this population.
Whistle source levels of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico135(2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4863304View Description Hide Description
Whistles of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) in the eastern Gulf of Mexico were recorded and measured with a calibrated towed hydrophone array. Surveys encountered groups of both bottlenose (N = 10) and spotted dolphins (N = 5). Analysis of those data produced 1695 bottlenose dolphin whistles and 1273 spotted dolphin whistles with a high signal-to-noise ratio. Whistle frequency metrics were lower in bottlenose than spotted dolphins, while whistle duration was longer in spotted dolphins, data that may help inform automatic classification algorithms. Source levels were estimated by determining the range and bearing of an individual dolphin from the array and then adding the predicted transmission loss to the calculated received level. The median bottlenose dolphin source level was 138 dB re 1μPa at 1 m with a range of 114–163 dB re 1μPa at 1 m. The median spotted dolphin source level was 138 dB re 1μPa at 1 m with a range of 115–163 dB re 1μPa at 1 m. These source level measurements, in conjunction with estimates of vocalization rates and transmission loss models, can be used to improve passive acoustically determined dolphin abundance estimates in the Gulf of Mexico.
Simulated masking of right whale sounds by shipping noise: Incorporating a model of the auditory periphery135(2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4864470View Description Hide Description
Many species of large, mysticete whales are known to produce low-frequency communication sounds. These low-frequency sounds are susceptible to communication masking by shipping noise, which also tends to be low frequency in nature. The size of these species makes behavioral assessment of auditory capabilities in controlled, captive environments nearly impossible, and field-based playback experiments are expensive and necessarily limited in scope. Hence, it is desirable to produce a masking model for these species that can aid in determining the potential effects of shipping and other anthropogenic noises on these protected animals. The aim of this study was to build a model that combines a sophisticated representation of the auditory periphery with a spectrogram-based decision stage to predict masking levels. The output of this model can then be combined with a habitat-appropriate propagation model to calculate the potential effects of noise on communication range. For this study, the model was tested on three common North Atlantic right whale communication sounds, both to demonstrate the method and to probe how shipping noise affects the detection of sounds with varying spectral and temporal characteristics.