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Walruses produce intense impulse sounds by clap-induced cavitation during breeding displays

Citation

Reichmuth, Colleen; Larsen, Ole Næsbye (2020), Walruses produce intense impulse sounds by clap-induced cavitation during breeding displays, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.7291/D1VT11

Abstract

Male walruses produce the longest continuous reproductive displays known in the animal kingdom to convey their individual fitness to potential rivals, and possibly to potential mates. Here we document the ability of a captive walrus to produce intense, rhythmic sounds through a non-vocal pathway involving deliberate, regular collision of the fore flippers. High-speed videography linked to an acoustic onset marker revealed sound production through cavitation, with the acoustic impulse generated by each forceful clap exceeding a peak-to-peak sound level of 200 dB re. 1 μPa. This clapping display is in some ways quite similar to the knocking display more commonly associated with walruses in rut but is produced through a very different mechanism and with much higher amplitudes. While this clapping behaviour has not yet been documented in wild individuals, it has been observed among other mature male walruses living in human care. Production of intense sounds through cavitation has previously been documented only in crustaceans but may also be an effective means of sound production for some aquatic mammals.

Funding

Natur og Univers, Det Frie Forskningsråd, Award: 10-093073