Individual calling behaviour and movements of North Atlantic minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Denise Risch, Sofie M. Van Parijs, Ursula Siebert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Information on individual calling behaviour and source levels are important for understanding acoustically mediated social interactions of marine mammals, for which visual observations are difficult to obtain. Our study, conducted in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SB- NMS), located in the Gulf of Maine, USA, used passive acoustic arrays to track North Atlantic minkewhales and assess the sound production behaviour of individuals.Atotal of 18minke whales were acoustically tracked in this study. Individual calling rates were variable, with a median inter- call interval (ICI) of 60.3 s. Average source levels (SLrms) for minke whales pulse trains ranged between 164 and 168 dB re 1 µPa, resulting in a minimum detection range of 0.4–10.2 km for these calls in this urban, coastal environment. All tracked animals were actively swimming at a speed of 5.0 ± 1.2 km/h, which matches swimming speeds of migrating minke whales from other areas and confirms SBNMS as part of the migration route of this species in theWestern North At- lantic. Tracked minke whales produced 7 discrete call types belonging to 3 main categories, yet no individual produced all call types. Instead, minke whales produced 2 multisyllabic call sequences (A and B) by combining 3–4 different call types in a non-random order. While 7 of the tracked individuals produced calling pattern A, 10 whales used calling pattern B, and only 1 animal com- bined call types differently. Animals producing different call sequences were in acoustic range of one another on several occasions, suggesting they may use these sequences for mediating social interactions. The fact that the same calling patterns were shared by several individuals suggests that these patterns may contain information related to sex, age or behavioural context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-1360
Number of pages26
Issue number9
Early online date7 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2014


  • pulse trains
  • vocalization
  • behaviour
  • minke whales
  • passive acoustic tracking
  • Balaenoptera acutorostrata
  • calling patterns; movement; source level


Dive into the research topics of 'Individual calling behaviour and movements of North Atlantic minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this