Common humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) sound types for passive acoustic monitoring

Alison K. Stimpert, Whitlow W.L. Au, Susan E. Parks, Thomas Hurst, David N. Wiley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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