Re: right whale communication

From: Cathy Schaeff (
Date: Fri Feb 25 2005 - 15:33:43 EST

  • Next message: Cathy Schaeff: "Whale sounds"

    Hi Julie,

    There is a lot of information about what kind of sounds whales make and why
    they make them. Since many scientists have already answered questions about
    whale sounds, rather than my writing it all down again here, you should go
    to the whalenet web site ( and look
    at those answers.

    Specifically for the right whale: (
    Popular version of paper 4aAB12
    Presented Thursday morning, May 27, 2004
    147th ASA Meeting, New York, NY

    The North Atlantic right whale (Figure 1) is one of the most endangered species of whale in the world. Reduced to low numbers by whaling before the 19th century, this population of whales has failed to show signs of recovery, despite protection from whaling for over 65 years. Relatively little is known of how right whale use sounds in their daily life from potentially locating prey to contacting other whales. This paper describes a particularly striking sound produced by male right whales which may play a role in right whale mating. This sound is referred to as a 'gunshot' sound because it is similar to the sound of a rifle being fired.
    Susan E. Parks -;Philip K. Hamilton & Scott D. Kraus
    (New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110);Peter L. Tyack
    (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole MA 02543);
    Acoustic Communication in the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
    Abstract: The focus of this thesis is the use of sound for communication by the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The surface active group (SAG) is the predominant social interaction in this species for which use of sound has been documented. Different group compositions in SAGs indicate that both potentially reproductive and non-reproductive groups have been combined under one label. Sound production in SAGs suggests that females form and maintain the groups by producing Scream calls. Males produce Upcalls and Gunshot sounds. Some calves produce Warble sounds in SAGs. Acoustic recordings confirm that SAGs are complex interactions between individuals, rather than simple groups with only one whale producing all the sounds to attract other whales to the group. Playback experiments demonstrate that right whales can use sounds from SAGs to locate the groups. Male right whales approached both North Atlantic and Southern right whale SAG playbacks. Female right whales only approached Southern right whale playbacks. Anatomical modeling resulted in a frequency range of hearing for the right whale (10 Hz - 22 kHz) that is consistent with the sounds that they produce and overlaps the frequency range of most anthropogenic noise sources. This combination of research provides a thorough description how North Atlantic right whales use sound in SAGs and how increasing levels of noise in the oceans may impact right whales in these groups. (25 tables, 68 figures, chapter refs.)

    Hope that htis helps,

    Cathy Schaeff

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Julie Tapp
      Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 9:48 PM
      Subject: right whale communication

      My name is Carli Jipsen. I'm in third grade at Eastshore Elementary school in Irvine, CA. I have to turn in a whale project that is due tomorrow and I can't find out how Right whales communicate. My choices are whistles, pulses, barks, chirps, trills, twitters, thuds, squeaks, grunts, or clicks. If you don't get to me it's fine my mom can write my teacher a note and tell her I could not find the answer. Hope you can e-mail me back soon enough!

      Thanks, Carli

      (PS If you can't get back to me tonight, I am still interested in knowing the answer.)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Feb 25 2005 - 08:17:25 EST