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 vocalizations 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 blue whales, even when the noise is far from the frequencies blue whales produce, and the long-term implications of this effect remain unknown.
Citation: 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
Financial Disclosure: The funders (Naval PostGraduate School, the Chief of Naval Operations N45, and the Pacific Fleet) had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interest: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Disclaimer: This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLoS ONE. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.
About PLoS ONE
PLoS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLoS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.
All works published in PLoS ONE are Open Access. Everything is immediately available--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases and otherwise use--without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authors and source are properly attributed. For more information about PLoS ONE relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and our embargo policy, see the everyONE blog at http://everyone.