Common humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) sound types for passive acoustic monitoring Academic Article uri icon


  • Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are one of several baleen whale species in the Northwest Atlantic that coexist with vessel traffic and anthropogenic noise. Passive acoustic monitoring strategies can be used in conservation management, but the first step toward understanding the acoustic behavior of a species is a good description of its acoustic repertoire. Digital acoustic tags (DTAGs) were placed on humpback whales in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to record and describe the non-song sounds being produced in conjunction with foraging activities. Peak frequencies of sounds were generally less than 1 kHz, but ranged as high as 6 kHz, and sounds were generally less than 1 s in duration. Cluster analysis distilled the dataset into eight groups of sounds with similar acoustic properties. The two most stereotyped and distinctive types (“wops” and “grunts”) were also identified aurally as candidates for use in passive acoustic monitoring. This identification of two of the most common sound types will be useful for moving forward conservation efforts on this Northwest Atlantic feeding ground.

publication date

  • January 2011