Blue whale behavior affected by man-made noise: study

February 29, 2012

Blue whale vocal behavior is affected by man-made noise, even when that noise does not overlap the frequencies the whales use for communication, according to new research published Feb. 29 in the open access journal PLoS ONE. The whales were less likely to emit calls when mid-frequency sonar was present, but were more likely to do so when ship sounds were nearby, the researchers report.

The study was conducted in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California by Mariana Melcon and her colleagues from University of California San Diego. Blue whale are important for a number of behaviors, including foraging and mating, but the effect of frequencies outside the blue whale production range had not been previously investigated.

The researchers conclude that noise resulting from human activity has a strong probability of affecting the vocal behavior of , even when the noise is far from the frequencies blue whales produce, and the long-term implications of this effect remain unknown.

Explore further: Third blue whale found dead in California

More information: Melcon ML, Cummins AJ, Kerosky SM, Roche LK, Wiggins SM, et al. (2012) Blue Whales Respond to Anthropogenic Noise. PLoS ONE 7(2): e32681. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032681

Related Stories

Blue whales singing with deeper voices

December 8, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Blue whales, the largest animals on earth, are singing with deeper voices every year, but scientists are unsure of the reason.

Sound maps reveal whales and noise pollution

February 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Chris Clark discussed his state-of-the-art acoustic animations and the difficulties facing whales Feb. 21 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Diego.

Lone whales shout to overcome noise (w/ Video)

July 7, 2010

Just like people in a bar or other noisy location, North American right whales increase the volume of their calls as environmental noise increases; and just like humans, at a certain point, it may become too costly to continue ...

Jump in whale deaths blamed on krill, ship traffic

October 11, 2010

(AP) -- An increase in the population of a tiny crustacean and busy shipping lanes are being blamed for a jump in the number of whale deaths in Northern California waters this year.

Recommended for you

Out of the lamplight

July 31, 2015

The human body is governed by complex biochemical circuits. Chemical inputs spur chain reactions that generate new outputs. Understanding how these circuits work—how their components interact to enable life—is critical ...

New insights into the production of antibiotics by bacteria

July 31, 2015

Bacteria use antibiotics as a weapon and even produce more antibiotics if there are competing strains nearby. This is a fundamental insight that can help find new antibiotics. Leiden scientists Daniel Rozen and Gilles van ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Lurker2358
not rated yet Feb 29, 2012
I ought to write a paper like this and apply for thousands in government grants.

No kidding?

Animal behavior is effected by humans?

Who would have guessed?

You sure?

I mean, where's your peer review to support these outrageously obvious claims?

Ah, I see, they paid six people to write a paper on the obvious.

Hey, maybe we can write about the sky being blue vs green.

I'm positive it's blue, but I could be mistaken, maybe I need a peer reviewed paper co-authored by six scientists to confirm that for me, just in case.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.