Singing fin whale swimming behavior in the Central North Pacific
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Male fin whales sing using 20 Hz pulses produced in regular patterns of inter-note intervals, but little is known about fin whale swimming behavior while they are singing. Even less is known about fin whales in Hawaiian waters because they have rarely been sighted during surveys and passive acoustic monitoring has been limited to sparse hydrophone systems that do not have localization capabilities. We hypothesized that fin whale kinematics may be related to their singing behavior, or external variables such as time and sea state. To investigate this hypothesis, we analyzed 115 tracks containing 50,034 unique notes generated from passive acoustic recordings on an array of 14 hydrophones from 2011 to 2017 at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility off Kauai, Hawaii. Fin whales swam at an average speed of 1.1 m/s over relatively direct paths. We incorporated the whales' speed and turning angle into hidden Markov models to identify different behavioral states based on the whales' movements. We found that fin whale kinematic behavioral state was related to the vocalization rate (also known as cue rate) and time of day. When cue rate was higher, fin whales were more likely to swim slower and turn more than when cue rate was lower. During the night, fin whales were also more likely to swim slower and turn more than during the day. In addition, we examined whether the presence of singing fin whales was related to time and sea state using generalized additive models. Fin whale track presence was affected by day of the year and song season, and possibly also wind speed and wave height. Although the track kinematics from the fin whale tracks presented here are limited to a subset of whales that are acoustically active, they provide some of the only detailed movements of fin whales in the region and can be compared against fin whale swim speeds in other regions. Understanding how fin whale swimming behavior varies based on their vocalization patterns, time, and environmental factors will help us to contextualize potential changes in whale behavior during Navy training and testing on the range.
Guazzo , R A , Durbach , I N , Helble , T A , Alongi , G C , Martin , C R , Martin , S W & Henderson , E E 2021 , ' Singing fin whale swimming behavior in the Central North Pacific ' , Frontiers in Marine Science , vol. 8 , 696002 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.696002
Frontiers in Marine Science
Copyright © 2021 Guazzo, Durbach, Helble, Alongi, Martin, Martin and Henderson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
DescriptionThis research was supported by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (Code N465JR, Award Number N0007020WR0EP8F), the Office of Naval Research (Code 322, Award Number N0001421WX00156), and tool development necessary for this analysis was supported by the U.S. Navy's Living Marine Resources Program (Award Number N0002520WR0141R).
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