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Echolocation click parameters of short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) in the wild

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Short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) are large, deep-diving predators with diverse foraging strategies, but little is known about their echolocation. To quantify the source properties of short-finned pilot whale clicks, we made 15 deployments off the coast of Tenerife of a deep-water hydrophone array consisting of seven autonomous time-synced hydrophone recorders (SoundTraps), enabling acoustic localization and quantification of click source parameters. Of 8185 recorded pilot whale clicks, 47 were classified as being recorded on-axis, with a mean peak-to-peak source level (SL) of 181 ± 7 dB re 1 μPa, a centroid frequency of 40 ± 4 kHz, and a duration of 57 ± 23 μs. A fit to a piston model yielded an estimated half-power (-3 dB) beam width of 13.7° [95% confidence interval (CI) 13.2°-14.5°] and a mean directivity index (DI) of 22.6 dB (95% CI 22.5-22.9 dB). These measured SLs and DIs are surprisingly low for a deep-diving toothed whale, suggesting we sampled the short-finned pilot whales in a context with little need for operating a long-range biosonar. The substantial spectral overlap with beaked whale clicks emitted in similar deep-water habitats implies that pilot whale clicks may constitute a common source of false detections in beaked whale passive acoustic monitoring efforts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Pages (from-to)1923-1931
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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