Friday, 13 April 2018

Sperm whale 'clicks' help scientists understand behaviour



April 10, 2018

Australian researchers hope the audio recordings will eventually help them measure the number of sperm whales that use Antarctic waters

Scientists have recorded thousands of hours of "clicks" that sperm whales make to forage for food and communicate, helping them better understand the behaviour of one of the Southern Ocean's key predators.

Sperm whales, which can measure up to 20 metres (67 feet) long, are listed as "vulnerable" to extinction.

The Australian researchers hope the audio recordings will eventually help them measure the number of sperm whales that use Antarctic waters, which will in turn assist with efforts to manage their survival.

They recorded whale vocalisations over six years using custom-designed and built acoustic moorings, and found they had four types—slow clicks, usual clicks, creaks and codas.

"Slow clicks and codas are thought to be linked to communication, while usual clicks and creaks are linked with echolocation and foraging," said Australian Antarctic Division acoustician Brian Miller, who worked with ecologist Elanor Miller on the project.

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