Università degli Studi di Pavia

Centro Interdisciplinare di Bioacustica e Ricerche Ambientali

Via Taramelli 24 - 27100 Pavia - Italy
e-mail : cibra@unipv.it

The voices of marine mammals of the Mediterranean Sea

Balaenoptera physalus

The Fin whale, as other mysticetes, produces low frequency sounds that are inaudible for human hearing. Like in most Balaenopteridae species, the acoustic repertoire is limited to simple acoustic structures. Typical sounds range from 15 to 30 Hz, inaudible for the human ear, though occasional sounds at higher frequencies are also reported in relation to interactions among individuals.
The typical emissions are made of sequences of two types of sounds: downsweeps (a descending tone) from 21-23 Hz to 17-18 Hz lasting about a second (type "A") and sounds with constant frequency around 18-20 Hz lasting about 0.8 seconds (type "B"). These two sounds are repeated in long rhythmic sequences and the proportion among the two changes in different populations.
To make those sounds audible, it is necessary to replay the recording at high speed; accelerated 8 times a fin whale sound looks like a short moo.
(5.4MB) B_physalus_8x_short.wav (700kB) B_physalus_8x.mp3 (1MB) B_physalus_8x_short.mp3 (127kB)

Fin whale recording with alternated type “A” and “B” sounds. The second from left and the rightmost are type “B” sounds.

Detailed view of a whale call type "A" recorded with a sonobuoy.

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Created June 2005, updated August 2005