Validating the reliability of passive acoustic localisation: A novel method for encountering rare and remote Antarctic blue whales

Miller, Brian S, Barlow, Jay, Calderan, Susannah, Collins, Kym, Leaper, Russell, Olson, Paula, Ensor, Paul, Peel, David, Donnelly, David, Andrews-Goff, Virginia, Olavarria, Carlos, Owen, Kylie, Rekdahl, Melinda, Schmitt, Natalie, Wadley, Victoria, Gedamke, Jason, Gales, Nick and Double, Michael C (2015) Validating the reliability of passive acoustic localisation: A novel method for encountering rare and remote Antarctic blue whales. Endangered Species Research, 26 3: 257-269. doi:10.3354/esr00642


Author Miller, Brian S
Barlow, Jay
Calderan, Susannah
Collins, Kym
Leaper, Russell
Olson, Paula
Ensor, Paul
Peel, David
Donnelly, David
Andrews-Goff, Virginia
Olavarria, Carlos
Owen, Kylie
Rekdahl, Melinda
Schmitt, Natalie
Wadley, Victoria
Gedamke, Jason
Gales, Nick
Double, Michael C
Title Validating the reliability of passive acoustic localisation: A novel method for encountering rare and remote Antarctic blue whales
Journal name Endangered Species Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1613-4796
1863-5407
Publication date 2015-01-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/esr00642
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 26
Issue 3
Start page 257
End page 269
Total pages 13
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Language eng
Subject 2303 Ecology
2309 Nature and Landscape Conservation
Abstract Since its near extirpation during the period of industrial whaling in the early and mid 20th century, the once common Antarctic blue whale Balaenoptera musculus intermedia re mains extremely rare. While annual systematic surveys around Antarctica from 1978 to 2009 re corded only 216 visual encounters of this species, their loud and distinctive calls were detected frequently throughout the Southern Ocean. We describe and assess a new method for locating these whales by acoustically detecting their vocalisations, tracking the location of their calls, and finally locating the whales visually. This methodology was employed during an Antarctic research voyage from 140° E to 170°W, between January and March 2013. The loudest song unit (a 26 Hz tone) was detected at all 298 recording sites south of 52° S. Acoustically derived bearings from these whales enabled visual observers to eventually sight the whales, often hundreds of kilometres from initial acoustic detections. Received sound pressure levels of detections increased with decreasing range to several hotspots where both song and non-song calls were detected. Within hotspots, shortrange acoustic localisation yielded 33 visual encounters of Antarctic blue whales (group size: 1 to 5 whales) over a 31 d period south of 60° S. These results demonstrate that acoustic tracking provides the capacity to locate Antarctic blue whales widely dispersed over many hundreds of kilometres, as well as the capacity to acoustically track individual whales for days at a time irrespective of most weather conditions. Thus, passive acoustic localisation is a reliable and efficient method to track Antarctic blue whales, and this technique should be considered for future studies of these iconic animals.
Formatted abstract
Since its near extirpation during the period of industrial whaling in the early and mid 20th century, the once common Antarctic blue whale Balaenoptera musculus intermedia remains extremely rare. While annual systematic surveys around Antarctica from 1978 to 2009 recorded only 216 visual encounters of this species, their loud and distinctive calls were detected frequently throughout the Southern Ocean. We describe and assess a new method for locating these whales by acoustically detecting their vocalisations, tracking the location of their calls, and finally locating the whales visually. This methodology was employed during an Antarctic research voyage from 140°E to 170°W, between January and March 2013. The loudest song unit (a 26 Hz tone) was detected at all 298 recording sites south of 52°S. Acoustically derived bearings from these whales enabled visual observers to eventually sight the whales, often hundreds of kilometres from initial acoustic detections. Received sound pressure levels of detections increased with decreasing range to several hotspots where both song and non-song calls were detected. Within hotspots, short-range acoustic localisation yielded 33 visual encounters of Antarctic blue whales (group size: 1 to 5 whales) over a 31 d period south of 60°S. These results demonstrate that acoustic tracking provides the capacity to locate Antarctic blue whales widely dispersed over many hundreds of kilometres, as well as the capacity to acoustically track individual whales for days at a time irrespective of most weather conditions. Thus, passive acoustic localisation is a reliable and efficient method to track Antarctic blue whales, and this technique should be considered for future studies of these iconic animals.
Keyword Blue whale
Passive acoustics
Tracking
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 10 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 14 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 10 Feb 2015, 10:53:16 EST by System User on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service