Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Australian long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) emit stereotypical, variable, biphonic, multi-component, and sequenced vocalisations, similar to those recorded in the northern hemisphere

Citation

Courts, Rachael et al. (2020), Australian long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas) emit stereotypical, variable, biphonic, multi-component, and sequenced vocalisations, similar to those recorded in the northern hemisphere, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.w3r2280p3

Abstract

While in the northern hemisphere, many studies have been conducted on the vocal repertoire of long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), no such study has been conducted in the southern hemisphere. Presented here, is the first study on the vocalisations of long-finned pilot whales along the southern coast of mainland Australia. Multiple measures were taken of 2 028 vocalisations recorded over five years in several locations. These vocalisations included tonal sounds with and without overtones, sounds of burst-pulse character, graded sounds, biphonations, and calls of multiple components. Vocalisations were further categorised based on spectrographic features into 18 contour classes. Altogether, vocalisations ranged from approximately 200 Hz to 25 kHz in fundamental frequency and from 0.03 s to 2.07 s in duration. These measures compared well with those from northern hemisphere pilot whales. Some call types were almost identical to northern hemisphere vocalisations, even though the geographic ranges of the two populations are far apart. Other call types were unique to Australia. Striking similarities with calls of short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and sometimes sympatric killer whales (Orcinus orca) were also found. Theories for call convergence and divergence are discussed.