Title

Social Vocalizations of Humpback Whales

Poster Number

13B

Lead Author Major

Biological Sciences

Lead Author Status

Junior

Format

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Stacie Hooper

Faculty Mentor Email

shooper@pacific.edu

Faculty Mentor Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract/Artist Statement

Humpback whales are described as relatively asocial; despite the close bond between a mother and its offspring. They lead relatively solitary lives with the exception of the breeding season and aggregations for a food source. Past research on humpback whales mainly focused on the males singing on the breeding grounds. However, a previous research group attempted to categorize humpback whale vocalizations under specific social contexts (Dunlop et al., 2007). While the function of these calls is unknown, the authors recognized 3 categories of harmonically structured sounds. In spring, many humpback whales leave the breeding grounds and journey to the Gulf of Alaska, where some engage in a specialized type of cooperative foraging called bubble net feeding. Some vocalizations produced by whales in this context appear to be directed at the fish they are herding, but others may be used to coordinate the group’s actions. The objective of our study was to determine if any of the categories identified by Dunlop et al. (2007) are also used by humpback whales to coordinate bubble net feeding. Another goal of our study was to identify any categories of social vocalizations that were not previously identified and which may be unique to the social groups which employ this feeding technique. We obtained underwater recordings of vocalizations produced by humpback whales engaged in bubble net feeding in the Gulf of Alaska. Using a software program called Audacity, we extracted social call sequences from these recordings, and then used Praat sound analysis software and customized scripts to extract quantitative measurements of call frequency, modulation, and duration. We categorized these measurements in the manner set forth by Dunlop et al. (2007). Based on the acoustic structure of these social vocalizations, we developed hypotheses regarding their function within the repertoire of the humpback whales.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom

Start Date

28-4-2018 10:00 AM

End Date

28-4-2018 12:00 PM

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Apr 28th, 10:00 AM Apr 28th, 12:00 PM

Social Vocalizations of Humpback Whales

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom

Humpback whales are described as relatively asocial; despite the close bond between a mother and its offspring. They lead relatively solitary lives with the exception of the breeding season and aggregations for a food source. Past research on humpback whales mainly focused on the males singing on the breeding grounds. However, a previous research group attempted to categorize humpback whale vocalizations under specific social contexts (Dunlop et al., 2007). While the function of these calls is unknown, the authors recognized 3 categories of harmonically structured sounds. In spring, many humpback whales leave the breeding grounds and journey to the Gulf of Alaska, where some engage in a specialized type of cooperative foraging called bubble net feeding. Some vocalizations produced by whales in this context appear to be directed at the fish they are herding, but others may be used to coordinate the group’s actions. The objective of our study was to determine if any of the categories identified by Dunlop et al. (2007) are also used by humpback whales to coordinate bubble net feeding. Another goal of our study was to identify any categories of social vocalizations that were not previously identified and which may be unique to the social groups which employ this feeding technique. We obtained underwater recordings of vocalizations produced by humpback whales engaged in bubble net feeding in the Gulf of Alaska. Using a software program called Audacity, we extracted social call sequences from these recordings, and then used Praat sound analysis software and customized scripts to extract quantitative measurements of call frequency, modulation, and duration. We categorized these measurements in the manner set forth by Dunlop et al. (2007). Based on the acoustic structure of these social vocalizations, we developed hypotheses regarding their function within the repertoire of the humpback whales.